Well, it didn’t result in a win, but at least the Pistons are fun again.
I’ve finally gotten to watch Andre Drummond live, and I can say I wasn’t disappointed. The Pistons’ promising rookie scored eight points and grabbed 14 points in 23 minutes of action tonight, his second start of the season. He provided the spark early for Detroit, including a highlight-reel offensive board and put-back in the first quarter and a (probably overlooked) setup pass to Jose Calderon for a layup that made me extremely happy. The Pistons are a basketball team again!
That said, beating the Chicago Bulls lately requires a bit more than merely “being a basketball team.” Coming off a close loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, Chicago was paced by forward Luol Deng, who scored 28 points on 7-of-18 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds. Forward Jimmy Butler added 16 points and five steals and reserve guard Nate Robinson scored 16 points.
It was a strong start-to-finish effort for the Pistons, though, who raced out to a 10-point lead early in the first quarter and kept ahead of Chicago until early in the fourth. Rodney Stuckey kept up his weird streak of playing well in games watched by Daniel Poarch, scoring 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting and adding two three-pointers. Naturally, then, Brandon Knight struggled – he shoot 2-for-6 from the field and scored only five points. Charlie Villanueva thumbed his nose at efficiency, scoring 14 points on 13 shots. Related: I still hate the look of Villanueva’s jump shot.
In particular, Greg Monroe shined tonight, snapping a small three-game slump with 18 points (7-of-12 shooting), 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Most of his scoring came in the paint – he made only two shots from greater than five feet from the basket – and he generally looked extremely sharp. Considering his 10-for-35 mark over his past three games, it was encouraging to see him return to form in Drummond’s second game back. There are still questions about whether he can perform as a power forward alongside Drummond, and the final few games of the season could go a long way towards showing what the two can do together in the starting lineup.
I know the Pistons should be tanking and I know it’s probably not the smartest decision not to shut down Andre Drummond, but I have to say I enjoy watching this team when the big guy is on the court. The Pistons simply look sharper with him out there – they shot 50% from the field tonight and traded blows with a quality opponent for four quarters, which is something they simply haven’t done in quite a long time. Losing by one point is a nice change of pace for a team that’s accustomed to losing by 20.
The Pistons have now lost 18 consecutive games against the Bulls and finished with only one win in the month of March (they finished 1-13 for the month). Despite that, there has to be some optimism now, because at least they’re a watchable basketball product once again. This road trip will continue to open April with visits to Toronto (Monday), Boston (Wednesday), and Minnesota (Saturday) next week.
They very well might lose all three, but at least Andre Drummond is back.