The Detroit Pistons managed to hold off the talent depleted Boston Celtics on Sunday night with an 87-77 home victory. The Pistons donned their new alternate uniforms that they will wear for Sunday games only, as a part of a new Sunday tradition known as “Motor City Sundays.”
After a heart-breaking overtime road loss in Memphis Friday night, the Pistons seemed to rebound pretty well. Although turnovers plagued the team once again, the Pistons got a much needed spark off the bench from Brandon Jennings, who made his Pistons debut. Jennings brought an electricity to the court that the Pistons will rely heavily on this season. Jennings finished the contest with 14 points, four assists and four steals, but was the Pistons only minus player on the night with a minus-four in 31 minutes of action.
Jennings wore a protective mask in the first three quarters, then played without it in the fourth. After the removal of the mask, Jennings looked much more comfortable on the court and played his best quarter when the Celtics were making a comeback.
Jennings also seemed most comfortable when playing in the backcourt with Rodney Stuckey. Both players gave the team a tremendous spark in the fourth quarter with their tenacity on the defensive end and ability in fastbreak situations.
With the return of Jennings last night and Rodney Stuckey against the Grizzlies, Pistons’ rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t see a glimmer of action action the Celtics. This came as a major surprise after the rookie played outstanding on the road against the Grizzlies, especially in critical periods in the fourth quarter, adding 13 points in 18 minutes of playing time. It seems as if Caldwell-Pope will be the odd man out in the guard rotation. The Pistons will use Bynum as the back-up point guard and have Billups and Stuckey alternate time at the two-guard spot. Coach Cheeks even said himself he wouldn’t have five guards in the playing rotation. Caldwell-Pope will have to wait for his name to be called, especially since Stuckey has been very impressive so far in two outings off the bench.
The Pistons’ big three of Smith, Monroe and Drummond came up tall again going for a combined 45 points and 29 rebounds. Although they all averaged around 15 and 10, they really struggled taking care of the ball and didn’t shoot well from the line. The three had a combined 11 turnovers (six from Smith) and went 3-11 from the charity stripe. That kind of effort in those two phases of the game will lead to a capital “L” in the win/loss column against teams more formidable than the Celtics.
Smith, in particular, has to control his game even more if the Pistons expect to change their losing ways. Smith is a stat sheet stuffer and pivotal to the team’s success this season, but he still takes too many questionable shots from the perimeter and can be careless with the ball. These concerns are nothing new when it pertains to Smith, yet they will continue to haunt this All-Star caliber talent until he finds a way to settle down his preference to take long, contested jump shots and over handle.
The Pistons’ next matchup will see them pitted against their Central Division rivals the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.