Pistons @ Grizzlies – Couldn’t Ask for More
As the Red Wings once again ruin my night (although Darren Helm literally scored as I was typing that), last night the Pistons made my studying-for-an-exam-while-coughing-up-a-lung efforts that much more enjoyable. Regardless of how I was feeling last night, the D-Boys turned in a fantastic performance to open the season.
After the nightmare of last season the Pistons, for one night at least, answered all of the questions doubters had about them. Would they play defense? Holding any NBA squad (even if it is the Memphis Grizzlies) under 80 points is an achievement. Would Ben Gordon and Rip Hamilton coexist after the A.I. experiment failed? 47 of the Pistons’ 96 points offers a resounding “yes.” Is Big Ben too old? The box score (3 points, 9 rebounds, and a block in 28 minutes) may not hold the answer. Those that watched the game will see the modified shots and hustle plays that Ben has made his hallmark as a Piston. So far, Wallace looks rejuvenated.
Are the Pistons for real? That is a question that won’t be answered with just one game. Yes, the Pistons looked good, but it was against the Grizzlies. Memphis is definitely an improving team but still not ready to break into the playoffs in the West. Charlie Villanueva didn’t have a particularly strong game with only 7 points (3/7 shooting) and 1 rebound. However, he was limited to 17 minutes with early foul trouble and still provided 3 blocked shots. The Pistons as a whole seemed active on the defensive end, but this team is still undersized in the front court. Marc Gasol had 21 points (6/9 shooting) and 15 rebounds in only 30 minutes for the Grizz, looking much better than he did at any point last season. The Pistons were out-rebounded 49-39. This will probably be the case for most of the season, but also keep in mind the Grizzlies sport four 7-footers on their roster.
One of the areas that many people identified would be a strength of this Pistons team was their shooting, and they didn’t disappoint last night. They shot 51.4% on the night and 37.5% from 3-point land. They only hit 16 of 29 free throws (55.2%), but 9 of those 13 misses came from Wallace, Kwame Brown, and Chris Wilcox. Ben Gordon was particularly efficient, scoring 22 points on only 12 shots. The only Piston to make less than 40% of their shots was (MF) Will Bynum, who was impressive in filling the rest of the stat sheet with 7 assists, 5 boards, and only 1 turnover.
Some random thoughts:
Though the Pistons may be better than we think, they won’t play as well all season as they did last night. This is a young team that will have its ups and downs. The key to sanity for Pistons fans this year is to enjoy the great performances while they last and take the poor ones with a grain of salt. So far I trust the moves Joe D made over the offseason to keep this team out of the lottery. If they consistently play at a level like last night there won’t be any talk of ping pong balls and draft odds in Detroit this season.