The Detroit Pistons remain undefeated after beating the Chicago Bulls in a game that was way too close, 118-116. The Bulls were without stretch-big Lauri Markkanen, arguably their best player. Here are a few notes from the game.
Blake Griffin has been the Pistons’ best player through two games. He was 12 of 23 from the field including five of seven from three(!) for a total of 33 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. He carried Detroit with +17 plus/minus. It was only two games, but Blake is deserving of player of the week in the eastern conference.
Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons have gotten off to a 7-3 start. Photo by: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
It is not time to overreact, but Andre Drummond has not looked great. He fouled out in 23 minutes, complained after every (correct) call against him, shot 5 of 13 from the field, didn’t get to the free-throw line, and yet still finished with a double-double. You get the feeling that he is big-headed through two games. Hopefully his attitude issues don’t continue because it’s hard to deny how talented the two-time all-star is.
As I feared, after only playing 19 minutes on opening night without starters Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard was a DNP-CD tonight, again in favor of Langston Galloway. Galloway finished with six points in 26 minutes. After the game, head coach Dwane Casey insisted Luke is not out of the rotation at this point, but I don’t like what I’ve seen so far. How does Jose Calderon play, but Luke does not?
On a semi-related note, Reggie Jackson played a lot of off the ball last night and sat in the corner consistently down the stretch. I wonder if Wednesday’s fourth-quarter antics had anything to do with this. Backup point guard Ish Smith and Jackson both saw similar usage percentages (19.4, 18.7) and minutes played (28 apiece.) Jackson’s offensive rating was a staggering 154, a team high, in large part due to his hot three-point shooting in the second quarter. He only took nine shots tonight. He took 20 against the Brooklyn Nets.
Zach LaVine torched Detroit all night, similar to Spencer Dinwiddie earlier this week. LaVine finished with 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting. He was lighting up everyone the Pistons threw at him, but saw larger doses of Bullock and Jackson. The on-ball defense wasn’t great, but the rim protection was again the larger issue. Drummond is no stopper in the paint, but is probably a more viable option than Griffin, who played some center tonight because of Drummond’s foul trouble and Zaza Pachulia’s lackluster play against Chicago.
It’s great that Detroit is 2-0, but the wins were hard to come by and were against teams that are less talented than the Pistons. That won’t be the case against the Philadelphia 76ers, who come to Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday. Detroit simply needs to play better if they hope to remain unbeaten.