My Detroit Sports: #MyPistons Weekly #12

The 12th edition of #MyPistons Weekly finds the Pistons 5 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot. It’s the time of season where teams begin scoreboard watching. The Pistons will be able to monitor game scores in the Pacific time zone as they head west for a critical 6 game road stretch that features 3 games against playoff hopefuls, a matchup against the league leading Houston Rockets, and 2 games against teams looking for extra lottery balls in May. While there has been talk about the role(s) Stan Van Gundy will play for the team going forward, both he and owner Tom Gores seem content to concentrate on finishing the season strong.

The week began in Cleveland on Monday against the new look Cavaliers. The Pistons got off to a strong start behind 12 first quarter points from Blake Griffin. Cleveland’s offense came alive in the 2nd quarter. A 14-5 Cavs run turned a tie game into a 5 point halftime deficit. LeBron James scored 13 of his 15 3rd quarter points during a 17-5 run that turned a 2 possession game into a 17 point deficit. The Pistons were down by as many as 25 points before falling 112-90. Poor shooting again undid the Pistons efforts. Blake Griffin went 10-22 from the field for 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Andre Drummond was 5-5 from both the field and the foul line, but it was a rare night this season where he was held to under 10 rebounds. The rest of the Pistons shot only 19-60 from the field, and lost the battle of the boards 53-40 overall and 11-8 on the offensive glass. James had 31 points to lead 6 Cavs in double figures, and Larry Nance Jr. had a 22 point and 15 rebound evening.

The Pistons then came home to face the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Raptors. Reggie Bullock was reinserted in the starting lineup. However, it was Blake Griffin and the bench unit that gave the Pistons a big lead in the second quarter. A 24-5 run turned a 3 point deficit into a 15 point lead. DeMar DeRozan helped the Raptors in the 3rd quarter, scoring 12 point as the Pistons were outscored 25-40 in the quarter and entered the 4th down by a point. It remained a 2 possession game the rest of the way, until Ish Smith’s 3 pointer with 40 seconds left tied it at 109. DeMar DeRozan and Blake Griffin took over from there. DeRozan’s jumper was matched by a 3 point play by Blake to give the Pistons a 1 point lead. DeRozan’s answered right back with a 3 point play on a dunk with 4.6 seconds left. On the final play Reggie Bullock found Blake Griffin near the basket to tie the game and send it to overtime. DeRozan continued his assault in overtime, with 3 points and 2 assists accounting for all 7 of the Raptors points. Blake Griffin’s 3 pointer tied the game at 119, but DeRozan’s final assist to Fred Van Vleet with 1.1 seconds was too much. Blake attempted a 3 pointer at the buzzer but couldn’t connect, and the Pistons fell in overtime 121-119. Blake Griffin had 31 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks. Andre Drummond contributed 10 points, 21 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Reggie Bullock had 21 points and 4 assists, while James Ennis chipped in 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists off the bench. The gold medal winning backcourt for Toronto was led by DeMar DeRozan’s 42 points and 6 assists, while Kyle Lowry contributed 15 points, 15 assists, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals.

Luke Kennard met with fans at a local Dunham’s in Waterford.

The Pistons finished the 2 game homestand against the Chicago Bulls, who made their first appearance at Little Caesars Arena. The Pistons were without Stanley Johnson and Dwight Buycks. James Ennis played alongside Reggie Bullock in the starting lineup. The Pistons got off to a slow start, trailing by as many as 7 in the first and 10 in the second quarter. Ish Smith lead the way with 8 points as part of a 20-8 run that turned a 10 point deficit into a 2 point halftime lead. 3’s by Blake Griffin and Reggie Bullock helped the Pistons go on a quick 10-2 run to push the lead into double figures. Jameer Nelson and Eric Moreland had the last 8 points of the quarter as the Pistons went into the 4th with an 11 point lead. The Pistons kept up the assault into the 4th, building leads as large as 20 before settling for a much needed 99-83 victory that snapped a 4 game losing streak. Blake Griffin led the way with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Reggie Bullock added 21 points as 5 Pistons scored in double figures. Andre Drummond had 5 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Reggie Hearn made his second appearance in a Pistons uniform.

The Pistons now head on the road to face the 3rd, 9th and 10th seeds in the Western Conference. They begin in Utah on Tuesday, then head to Denver on Thursday and Portland on Saturday. The Pistons have faced these opponents before at home. They lost to Denver in December, and to Utah in overtime in January before trouncing the Blazers in February. But these will be playoff intensity games against opponents who are also fighting for seeding. All the Pistons can do now is match that intensity and hope for help from their opponents.

Trying to keep the playoff hopes alive, these Pistons fans are keeping their #DetroitBasketball spirit in this week’s #MyPistons ‘Fans of the Week’!

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