Though, the night did not begin nicely.
The Suns controlled most of the first half and led by as many as 23. However, hope never faded as the Pistons slowly chipped away during the last portion of the second quarter and cut it to eight at half time. The Pistons switched to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter and it knocked the Suns off their rhythm and pace.
The Suns bench scored 29 in the opening half and their guards effectively harassed Derrick Rose and the Pistons. The squads combined for 20 made three-pointers in the opening half — 8 for the Pistons and 12 for the Suns. Ex-Piston and great guy Langston Galloway led all scorers at the break with 17 and five treys. His exceptionally quick release and pin-point shooting was in fine form.
Jerami Grant was decent in the first half on 3-of-3 shooting, though after the break he was more aggressive in all facets. If you need a bucket, Jerami is the go-to guy. Not only did he hit his perimeter opportunities, time after time he took people off the dribble with his quickness and superb ball-handling and then finished with his wiry yet brute strength.
Pistons took a 89-88 lead in the fourth — their first lead since the first quarter — with a Griffin hook that danced around and fell. Sharp-shooter Cam Johnson drilled a three shortly after. With less than 10 seconds left and down a duece, Grant drove to the cup and with a sneaky wrap-around pass found Mason Plumlee for a dunk.
Devin Booker had a chance with the clock winding down to hit the showers victorious, but he missed his fall away jumper with Grant in his grill.
The Pistons scored the first nine in overtime thanks to Blake Griffin’s grit and hustle, some sharp passing, and the sweet shooting of Saddiq Bey. The Pistons pretty much had the game in the bag from then on.
The Pistons defense should get a lot of credit tonight for slowing the Suns. But make no mistake, the Suns missed a ton of wide open looks. They were ice cold in the second half, especially Devin Booker.
Blake Griffin finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five feeds in 40 grown man minutes. He looked a little more springy and fluid than we’ve seen him in way too long.
Speaking of a grown man, Mason Plumlee played a mostly solid all around game, as did Delon Wright. Jerami Grant paced the club with 31 points on 15 shots.
Here’s some individual notes:
Delon made a number of smart, aggressive cuts, especially right after he passed to a big in the high post. He was rewarded with good looks more than a few times in this one. He finished with six assists and one turnover and really just took what the defense gave him, rarely forcing anything. He shot 7-of-11 from the field in 34 minutes, and even though he didn’t force much of anything, I’d like to see him look for his own just a tad more often. He’ll never be a top three option on the court with most lineups, but his aggressiveness can’t disappear for whole games like we’ve seen a little too often so far in thee young season already.
Josh, playing against the squad that drafted him 5th overall, seemed very nervous and revved up, to say the least. He struggled in the first half with good shots and good decisions, and then he was pulled less than two minutes gone by in the third quarter because of back to back wild attempts. He would see the floor again but only in limited minutes. It was Josh’s first game back from missing two straight, so a little patience is needed for him to get back on a roll. If healthy, he’ll be fine.
With Jerami, you’ll live with the occasional wild shot because for the most part he takes quality shots within the flow of the offense and takes it STRONG to the cup. More than a couple times in this game Grant made good defenders in Bridges and Crowder look pretty mediocre. Jerami can score from anywhere and he had to in this game, especially when the game’s flow bogged down quite a bit in the second half. Grant can be a lethal and efficient one-on-one player at times.
Like I wrote before the player bullets, Mason had a grown man game. Not sexy, not fancy, yet effective for what this team needed in this particular game. Mason consistently puts massive pressure on the defense from a variety of spots on the floor within a variety sets. If only he had a bit more of a jump shot, he’d be somewhat Joker-lite. Speaking of jumpers, Mason continues to rip the nets with his free throw shooting (not a strength for the vet), as in this one he was 8-of-8. Mason had a couple of timely steals and team plays that won’t pop or even show up in a box score.
Blake was moving a little bit better in this game, yes? It seems he was. Perhaps he’s feeling better and is slowly but surely gaining more confidence in his body. There were so many winning and instrumental plays in this game from Blake, it’s hard to pinpoint any that are more important than the other. In 40 minutes, somewhere around 13 field goal attempts (which Blake had) is where you’d like to see Blake at. If it was up to me, 35 minutes would be the cap for his playing time in a game, but with overtime in this one, 40 became the final number.
The rookie only played seven minutes in the opening half, but did have a swift move with a shot off the glass for a two-point bucket. As everyone knows, Bey hasn’t been much of a two-point bucket getter this season. Bey played a lot of crunch time minutes and didn’t disappoint on either end. He leads rookies in 3-point makes and added two more to his total in this one. I like how he is almost always in great position to get a quality shot up. He’s ready and confident. There’s no wasted time or energy with this kid.
These days when Rose has a bad game, it’s a really bad game. This one falls under the really bad game column.
The three-year NBA guard (current two-way player) out of Duke made his Detroit Piston debut, playing some mostly quality minutes in this one. He picked his shots wisely and made the right plays. I thought he was aggressive on a transition attempt where he looked for his own and put up a floater. He didn’t cash in but it was a good, decisive look. On a couple of possessions he did a nice job of sticking with Booker and making him work.
Isaiah doesn’t add much on offense right now, and with his mostly limited ability and savviness with interior defense, his nine first half minutes did not warrant more time from Casey. That being said, on back-to back possessions early on in his shift, Isaiah defensively manhandled his matchup with Dario Saric.
Okafor played 10 minutes and gave the team some much needed energy. I’m not certain if he deserves a role in this rotation right now, but with some growing pains ahead (read: also now) for the rookie Stewart, Okafor is going to get his fair share of opportunities for more consistent minutes.
Svi is still taking his type of shots and not shying away one bit it seems, but they aren’t dropping consistently for him. Defensively it wasn’t his best night either. The quickness of the Suns guards mixed in with the length of their wings gave Svi some issues. Svi is coming around, though still figuring out his role on this team. We all know what it should be, but the coaching staff and player have to be on the same page.