My Detroit Sports: #MyPistons Weekly #9

This edition of MyPistons Weekly finds the Pistons a game and a half out of the 8th seed after the trade deadline and a week before the All-Star break. The Pistons executed a few trades on Thursday to help solidify the bench. Blake Griffin’s former teammates Brice Johnson and Willie Reed were traded along with a 2022 2nd round pick (the Bulls have the right to swap 2nd round picks in 2022 and the Grizzlies receive whatever 2nd round pick the Pistons end up with) for Memphis small forward James Ennis and former All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson.

The Pistons started the week off at home against the Portland Trailblazers. Like the Pistons, the Blazers are in a crowded fight for a playoff spot. One of Detroit’s problems this season has been slow starts. However, Stan Van Gundy seems to have found a starting lineup with 2 small forwards flanking Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin with Ish Smith at point guard. This lineup has reversed that trend and has started building 1st quarter leads. The Pistons slowly built up a double digit lead, as many as 13 points, before a 10-0 Blazers run cut the lead to 2. Blake Griffin’s shot with 1 second left gave the Pistons a 6 point lead heading into the half. In the second half it was all Pistons. A 14-2 run midway through the 3rd turned a 6 point game into an 18 point blowout. The lead swelled to as many as 26 points and the Pistons emptied their bench before winning 111-91. The Blake Griffin/Andre Drummond tandem dominated with final tallies of 21 points/9 rebounds/6 assists and 17 points/17 rebounds/5 assists/3 blocks respectively. More importantly, Detroit seems past their early season shooting woes, shooting 50% from the field and behind the arc. Kay Felder and Reggie Hearn made their first appearances as Pistons.

On Wednesday the Pistons got a chance to avenge a January loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Once again the Pistons got off to a strong start. Langston Galloway went on a 7-0 run by himself over a 2 minute span at the end of the 1st to give the Pistons a lead they would not relinquish. The Pistons kept a single digit lead, only allowing the Nets to tie, the rest of the way. A Joe Harris 3 pointer cut the lead to 3 with 3 minutes remaining. Reggie Bullock’s layup and a 3 by Stanley Johnson reestablished the lead as the Pistons pulled away to win 115-106. Only 8 Pistons played, with all 8 scoring over 8 points. Blake Griffin’s 25 point/7 assist performance was overshadowed by 27 rebounds (highest total for anyone this season) by Andre Drummond. Stanley Johnson continued to find his niche in the revamped Pistons lineup scoring 19 points on 9-15 shooting. Good shooting and taking care of the ball (only 7 turnovers) were key to extending the winning streak to 5 games.

Friday was the highly anticipated matchup between Blake’s new team and old at Little Caesars Arena. Not even a blizzard could keep fans away from this nationally televised game. As great as Blake Griffin has been as a Piston, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley have fit in well for the Clippers. The Clippers came into this game 2 games over .500 and still in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot. Neither team could build more than a 2 possession lead in the first 3 quarters, with the balanced attack of the Pistons (6 players in double figures) being matched by the bench scoring of All-Star snub Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers went on the last run of the game with a 17-5 spurt spanning the beginning of the 4th to 4 minutes remaining. That proved to be enough as the Pistons fell 108-95. The Pistons simply ran out of gas in the 4th, and poor shooting and rebounding doomed them. The Clippers won the battle of the boards 54 to 40 with a 14 to 7 edge on the offensive glass.

While they are a game and a half out of the 8th seed, only 3.5 games separate the Pistons from the 4 seed. The Pistons must recover and start another winning streak. There are more opportunities coming up quickly with a Sunday matinee game in Atlanta followed by 2 games at Little Caesars against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday and the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday before the All-Star break. There will also be opportunities to add to the roster with many teams buying out players who could not be traded on Thursday. It’s time for Detroit to take advantage.

Take a look at this week’s #MyPistons ‘Fans of the Week’! Stay tuned for future Detroit Pistons giveaways just for showing your #DetroitBasketball pride!

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