Tonight, the Detroit Pistons (1-0) opened up Little Caesar’s Arena and the 2017-18 season with a decisive victory over the Charlotte Hornets (0-1), 102-90. Eminem, Detroit’s home grown celebrity, opened up the evening, pumping up the crowd and the Pistons did not disappoint.
As a team, the Pistons shot 42% from the field and 34.6% from behind the arc but they had great ball movement and most importantly, Detroit played inspired, feisty defense, forcing seventeen Hornets turnovers. In his first game as a Piston, Avery Bradley echoed this sentiment stating,
“We had a defensive mentality. I felt like the ball was moving well, it was spread out around the court. We played well as a team tonight. This is the way we need to play every single game.”
Tobias Harris was hot from the start and finished with a game-high 27 points. Harris also grabbed 10 boards earning him his first double-double of the season. Newly acquired Avery Bradley fit right into the Pistons offense, scoring 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Thankfully, Reggie Jackson had a promising start to the season, finishing with 13 points (5-10fg), while dishing 8 assists.
Andre Drummond battled Dwight Howard all night, scoring only 8 points but two of those points were from the free throw line where Drummond went two for two. Drummond also had two blocks. Most interestingly, Stanley Johnson missed all thirteen shots he took but he played great defense, swiping four steals, and finished with a +/- 6 in 40 minutes of play.
During the post game interview, coach Stan Van Gundy addressed Johnson’s bizarre night and the Pistons shooting struggles.
“I thought (Stanley Johnson) had some good defensive plays. He had four steals, clearly not the shooting night that he would probably hope to have. We hit one stretch there with the second unit in the second half where we were up like 18, I thought five straight times we got good shots and couldn’t make anything. It was a tough night shooting the ball. They are a good defensive team and we struggled, but we got enough contributions from enough people to end up okay.”
Off the bench, Langston Galloway was a microwave of instant offense. Galloway poured in 16 points (6-11fg, 3-6 3pt) and he collected three steals. Henry Ellenson also impressed scoring 13 points in 16 minutes.
The Charlotte Hornets came into this game without their second best player and their secondary ball-handler, Nicholas Batum, and it clearly affected their offense. Last year, the Hornets averaged the least amount of turnovers in the NBA (11.5) and tonight they turned the ball over seventeen times. Kemba Walker did his typical damage against the Pistons, posting a strong stat line of 24 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Jeremy Lamb pitched in 15 points while Dwight Howard posted a double-double (10 points, 15 rebounds).
Overall, the Pistons had an impressive opening night against the Hornets. Detroit demonstrated good ball movement without being wreck-less and most importantly, the team played inspired. The Pistons will look to build off this win when they fly to Washington D.C. to face John Wall and the Wizards (1-0) on Friday at 7pm EST.