After struggling on both ends of the court in a 108-91 loss against Milwaukee on Saturday, the Pistons came back with an all-around better effort on Tuesday night, defeating an injury-riddled Orlando team 112-86.
With their highest shooting percentages of the preseason (54.3% overall), Detroit blew open a close game in the second quarter with a 35-14 frame. Rodney Stuckey regained his offensive form and lead the team with 19 points (6-of-10 shooting), five assists and two steals, while Greg Monroe was right behind him with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Orlando’s shooting was actually pretty solid at 48.6%, but they made just four of 13 three-pointers, shot seven less free throws than the Pistons (15 to 22) and had just four offensive rebounds. They were playing with essentially their entire starting lineup – Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu, Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis – on the bench due to injury or a coach’s decision, leaving younger players and training camp invitees to fend for themselves against Detroit.
With a 62-38 lead at halftime, head coach Lawrence Frank went to his bench in the second half quite a bit as everyone but Austin Daye, Slava Kravtsov and Terrence Williams played.
The 2012 rookie class trio of Andre Drummond, Kim English and Khris Middleton contributed 21 points, four blocks by Drummond and just one turnover. Their continued development is crucial to the future success of the team, so seeing them contribute – even against a weak team like Orlando – is a good sign.
Some key points about this game:
- The Pistons, after making only four three-pointers in their first two preseason games, have increased their makes and percentages in the last two games. They made 10-of-21 against the Magic for a 47.6 completion percentage. Second-year guard Brandon Knight led the team with three, while seven other players had one each.
- After shooting 70% or better from the free-throw line in the two games against Toronto, the team shot just 63% and 65% against the Bucks and Magic. Considering how games can be won or lost at the charity stripe, and how free throws are free points, Detroit should continue practicing shooting as the preseason continues.
- The Pistons had 26 assists and just 16 turnovers, with three starters tallying at least three each; it was their best showing this preseason in terms of protecting the ball and distributing it on offense. Knight’s growth as a point guard means getting his teammates involved; could this type of game be a precursor to his regular season?