My Detroit Sports: #MyPistons Weekly #11

My Pistons Weekly #11 finds the Pistons in dire straits. There are only 19 games left in the season, and the Pistons find themselves a season high 5 games under .500 and 4 games back of the 8th and final playoff spot. Since the Pistons are 20-13 at home and 9-21 on the road, it will be difficult to re-enter the playoff picture. Only 8 of the final 19 games are at Little Caesars Arena. At the same time, only 9 of the 19 remaining games are against teams currently in playoff contention.

The Pistons started a week with an early afternoon game against the Hornets last Sunday in Charlotte. The Hornets got off to a quick start and lead by 13 after the 1st quarter and 24 at the half. The story of this game was the Pistons misfiring from long range, as they only hit 4 of 18 shots from 3 point range while the Hornets went 16 for 35. Andre Drummond had 14 points and 14 rebounds. Blake Griffin added 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. But bench scoring went heavily in Charlotte’s favor, as they had 4 players in double figures for a 51-28 advantage. The Pistons fell 98-114.

The Pistons then traveled to face the Eastern Conference leading Raptors in Toronto Monday night. In a reverse of the previous game, the Pistons kept in close in the first half while being heavily outscored in the second. It was a 6 point game at the half, but the Pistons were outscored by double digits in the third and fourth quarters. Poor shooting was the culprit as the Pistons shot under 40% from the field while the Raptors shot over 50%. Bench scoring again was an issue, as the Raptors bench had a 54-32 advantage over their counterparts. Dwight Bucyks and James Ennis each scored in double figures off the bench, but shot 3-11 and 3-9 from the field respectively, and had little help. Andre Drummond had a monster game with 18 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks and 4 steals. Ish Smith added 16 points and 2 assists. But the gold medal backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points a piece and 6 players off their bench had 7 points or more to pace the Raptors in their 123-94 victory.

The Pistons caught a break facing the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Wednesday. The Bucks were coming off a late overtime loss and faced the Pistons on the second night of a back to back. The Pistons were able to take advantage by holding MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo to 11 points and the Bucks to under 40% from the field. Moving James Ennis to the starting lineup paid off, as Stanley Johnson responded by leading the Pistons in scoring as part of a 19 point, 6 rebound, 4 assist effort. Andre Drummond had 15 points and 16 rebounds (10 offensive), and Dwight Buycks had 12 points, 4 assist, 4 steals. The Pistons started building their lead in the second quarter and did not let up as they outscored Milwaukee by 14 in the second half as they went on to win 110-87.

But the road woes continued in Florida. The Pistons faced the Magic on Friday night on the first night of their back to back. The Magic were on a 7 game losing streak coming into the game. In a game that was close most of the way, the Pistons never lead by more than 7 in the second half. They held a 7 point lead for the final time with a little under 5 minutes remaining, 100-93. They would only score 4 points on 1-9 shooting the rest of the quarter. Orlando quickly responded with an 8-0 run fueled by a 3 point play and later 3 point shot by Aaron Gordon which gave the Magic a 1 point lead. 2 free throws by Reggie Bullock put the Pistons back ahead before Evan Fournier responded with a 3 pointer of his own. It looked bleak when the Magic had a 2 point lead and possession with the clock ticking down. Shelvin Mack’s missed 3 pointer went into the hands of Blake Griffin with 10 seconds left, and he found James Ennis for a dunk to tie the game. The Magic were unable to do anything out of the time out before Vucevic threw the ball away with a fraction of a second remaining. Unfortunately, that momentum did not carry into the extra period. Fournier continued his offensive assault with the first 6 points of the overtime, and the Pistons missed all 8 of their shots and 3 of 5 free throw attempts as they were outscored 9-2, falling 113-106 on the night. James Ennis and Reggie Bullock each had 21 points. Andre Drummond had 10 points and 15 rebounds, and Blake Griffin was an assist away from a triple double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. Dwight Buycks and Anthony Tolliver each added in 12 points off the bench. However, a cold stretch doomed the Pistons, as it’s hard to win shooting only 1-17 from the field and 2-7 from the foul line over the last 5 minutes of the 4th and overtime.

The Pistons faced the Heat in a critical playoff matchup last night. The Heat came into the game 3 games ahead of the Pistons for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Pistons came out with the intensity you’d expect for such an important game as they jumped out to a 14-5 lead and were ahead by 1 after the 1st quarter. The Heat responded with a 25-6 stretch over the first 8 minutes of the second quarter. The Heat lead by as many as 18 before a flagrant foul by Justise Winslow on Blake Griffin and a 3 pointer by James Ennis cut it to 13 at the half. A 24-10 run in the 3rd put the Pistons back in the game, as they got within 2 points with possession towards the end of the quarter. Josh Richardson’s baskets to end the 3rd and start the 4th gave Miami some breathing room, and the Pistons could get no closer the rest of the way. Basketball is a game of runs, and it took all the Pistons energy to get themselves back into this game. They had nothing left to give in the 4th quarter as they fell 96-105. Blake Griffin had 31 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Andre Drummond had 22 points, 18 rebounds (11 offensive), and 4 steals. It wasn’t enough to overcome 6 Heat players in double figures combined with Hassan Whiteside’s 8 point and 19 rebound effort.

 

The Pistons must now try to make up ground against some of the Eastern Conference’s top teams. They face the Cavaliers in Cleveland tomorrow before coming home to face the Raptors on Wednesday in a nationally televised matchup. The Pistons get one more home game against the lottery bound Chicago Bulls before embarking on a 6 game Western Conference road trip that has them facing the Rockets, 3 teams in the tight Western Conference playoff race in Denver, Utah, and Portland, plus games against lottery teams Sacramento and Phoenix. The Pistons must get hot quickly to get back to .500 and in contention for a playoff spot. They will also need help from either Miami or Milwaukee, as the Pistons control neither their destiny nor draft pick.

We’d like to congratulate Instagram’s @baileylaine22 for being chosen as the recipient for an autographed Reggie Bullock photo as she was featured as one of our #MyPistons ‘Fans of the Week’! Show your #DetroitBasketball pride to be entered to win future giveaways!

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