The Detroit Pistons ended their four game skid last night with a 97-90 victory over the Sacramento Kings. The win last night also gave the Pistons their first road win over a Western Conference opponent in 20 tries.
Josh Smith led the way with a dynamite, stat-sheet stuffing performance piling up 21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals and four blocks. Smith was the epitome of on-court excellence last night and played like the guy the Pistons shelled out $54 million for this offseason.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the game by Smith last night was the first of its kind in terms of a stat line since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1993-94.
Smith was locked in and played within himself. He wasn’t forcing three-pointers, took care of the ball, led the break and most importantly got all of his teammates involved.
Watching Smith play this type of game, a game he’s capable of bringing to the table each and every night, it’s tough to figure out why the Atlanta Hawks would let him walk.
But upon pondering, it’s because he doesn’t do it all the time and that’s what’s so frustrating.
Maybe once the frontcourt and the rest of the newcomers start to gel and a stronger sense of assimilation occurs, this type of performance will happen on a regular basis.
Not only was Smith locked in, his fresh face counterpart Brandon Jennings was as well.
Jennings played the type of game that Maurice Cheeks will expect from him throughout the season. Although Jennings was 5-14 from the field and only scored 11 points, he was aggressive on both ends of the floor, facilitated and took care of the ball (nine assists and only one turnover). He also showed glimpses of strong leadership, something the Pistons have needed from the point guard spot.
Shot selection is still an issue with Jennings, but it will continue to surface until the Pistons find a reliable perimeter shooter.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who made his first career start, scored seven points on 2-5 shooting and was reasonably productive in his 21 minutes played. Rodney Stuckey came off the bench and gave the Pistons a spark offensively scoring 16 points in 30 minutes of action.
Andre Drummond, who really struggled early, found his game in the second half and ended up with 15 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.
Like ESPN color analyst Doris Burke pointed out so many times last night during the broadcast, once Drummond figures out how to play and develops moves on the block…watch out. Drummond, 20, is already a dominant force on the offensive glass and can get up and down the floor in transition at a hulking 6-foot-10 and 270-pounds.
Further tutelage under Rasheed Wallace, who was constantly in the ear of Drummond last night on the bench, will have the same sort of impact that Maurice Cheeks should have on Brandon Jennings.
Last night in a nationally-televised game the Pistons showcased the promise and talent on both ends of the floor that was expected.
Their next shot to get things back on track and prove that they’re for real will be in LaLa land against the Lakers Sunday night.