The Detroit Pistons used a 56-28 advantage in the paint to secure an opening night 113-102 victory over the Washington Wizards. The Pistons, who were without the services of Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey, relied heavily on the frontcourt and they came up huge.
Greg Monroe led the way with his fourth straight double-double versus the Wizards scoring 24 points and snatching 16 rebounds. Moose also played a game high 41 minutes and went 12-15 from the charity stripe. Monroe was the Pistons workhorse tonight from the center spot as Drummond sat most of the second half because of foul trouble.
Statistically speaking, Monroe was the Pistons’ most impressive player, but the play of Josh Smith gave the team just enough to get over the hump tonight. Smith was a force on both ends of the floor and played like the guy the Pistons imagined when they gave him all that money this summer. Smith scored 19 points on 8-12 shooting and had five rebounds and five assists. The most impressive aspect of his game tonight was his ability to create and set up his fellow bigs for easy layups and dunks.
The Pistons’ frontcourt did an exceptional job all-around passing the rock and that’s something that will continue to improve as the season progresses.
Andre Drummond was the recipient of numerous set-up feeds for dunks and finished the night with 12 points and eight rebounds. Drummond did find himself in foul trouble with some tic-tac calls and spent much of the second half on the pine and finished with only 26 minutes played. There was a lot of skepticism this offseason whether Drummond could stay out of foul trouble and give the team valuable minutes late and tonight wasn’t a good start in that direction. When Drummond was on the floor he proved he could be a major difference maker this season on the offensive glass.
Because of the injuries in the backcourt, Will Bynum and Chauncey Billups started tonight’s game. Bynum finished with 19 points and five assists and Billups had 16 points and five assists.
Billups showed off why he earned the nickname “Mr. Big Shot” as he knocked down four of five triples, two of which were back-to-back in the mid-stages of the fourth quarter. Not only did he hit clutch shots, he played at his controlled and methodical pace which was crucial in protecting the lead late. Billups finished with only one turnover in 31 minutes of action.
Bynum was equally as impressive showing off his explosiveness getting to the rim and setting up the bigs with easy flushes. Although he did so much well, he at times played a bit out of control and turned the ball over carelessly in a few different situations. But, one can’t argue with the type of production he brings as a guard that’s listed on the bottom of the depth chart.
Game Ball: Josh Smith
Unsung Hero: Kyle Singler
Rough Night at the Office: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Next contest: Friday night @ Memphis 8:00 P.M.