The Detroit Pistons began their 2019-20 season with a 119-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey is known to say “it’s a make or miss league,” so Palace of Pistons will be bringing you three makes and three misses throughout the year following a game.
In our first installment, we look at three makes and three misses from the Detroit’s season-opening victory in Indianapolis.
First Make: Andre Drummond starts the season strong
The biggest question facing the Pistons entering the new season (aside from Blake Griffin’s legs) was whether Andre Drummond would bring his game to a new level, one worthy of the max contract that he will be seeking in the summer of 2020.
Wednesday night in Indiana, Drummond quickly showed that he plans to answer that question with a resounding “yes”.
After a slow offensive start for both teams (more on that in a moment), Drummond scored eight of Pistons’ first thirteen points as they pushed an early lead to 13-6. Drummond added another bucket and a couple of assists to polish the edges on his first-half performance.
The most impressive part of Drummond’s first half, however, came on the defensive end. To call Drummond a nuisance on the defense would be a disservice – Drummond had two steals and three blocks (including an ominous stare-down rejection on Aaron Holiday) while collecting 11 first-half rebounds.
While impressive, Drummond’s numbers don’t even reflect the impact he had on the functionality of the Pacers offense in the first half. Drummond simply owned the interior, leaving Indiana with few answers.
Drummond continued his dominance in the second half, displaying some crafty handles while demonstrating his usual prowess on the glass.
Drummond finished with a game-high 32 points, 23 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals.
First Miss: Offense Out of the Gate
This one goes for both teams.
The game remained a 0-0 for the first 2:45 of the first quarter, until Reggie Jackson sunk a mid-range shot that bounced around the rim, almost as if it still didn’t want to touch nylon yet.
It was an ugly start, with the two squads combining to open the game on 0-8 shooting from the field. After that, though, the teams combined to put up 51 points in the quarter, with the Pistons leading 27-24 after one.
It was the first game of the season, and for a while, that seemed sorely obvious.
Second Make: Derrick Rose on a Bargain Contract
The highest-notoriety signing of the offseason for Detroit was obviously the 2011 NBA MVP, Derrick Rose. What wasn’t obvious was whether the Pistons would be getting the Derrick Rose who looked explosive at times while providing 16.9 bench points per game last season, or a more hobbled Derrick Rose, one who most have grown accustomed to over the past few years.
Pistons fans shouldn’t worry too much.
Rose began his Pistons tenure by sinking all five of his first-half field goal attempts, putting up 15 points to go along with three assists in the opening half of the season, clearly establishing himself as the Pistons best offense option outside of a healthy Blake Griffin.
Rose finished the evening with 18 points and nine assists on 6/11 shooting from the field.
Second Miss: Third Quarter Turnovers
Detroit began the second half by turning the ball over four times in the first three minutes.
The turnovers stalled any momentum the Pistons attempted to build in the second half, and at one point it led to them facing a nine-point third-quarter deficit, the largest they faced all game.
Despite digging themselves into a second-half hole, they found a way out – many thanks to the next guy on this list.
Third Make: Luke Kennard’s 4th Quarter
After two seasons of showing promise, Luke Kennard entered the year with high expectations, even while coming off the bench.
The Pistons reserves absolutely washed the floors with the Pacer counterparts on Wednesday night. And alongside the aforementioned Rose, the charge was led by Luke Kennard for the Detroit bench – especially in the fourth quarter.
With 8:02 remaining in the contest, Kennard stood at the free-throw line in between a pair of free throws while Bruce Brown waited at the scorer’s table to check in after the second charity shot. Dwane Casey called an audible, bringing Brown back to the bench.
The decision to bring Brown back to the bench proved to be very wise, as Kennard poured in 15 points during the final 8:02, leading the Pistons to a 119-110 victory. Kennard finished with 30 points off the bench on 6/9 shooting from three-point range.
Third Miss: Reggie Jackson’s Absence
The final negative on the evening was the disappearance of Reggie Jackson. Aside from getting the Pistons on the board and knocking down a first-quarter three-point attempt, Jackson was held off the stat sheet, at times feeling like he wasn’t on the screen.
It is the first game of the year, and last year brought growing pains for Jackson, too. But after his first fully healthy summer in some time, Jackson has looked a little off during the beginning stretch of the 2019-20 campaign.
Jackson finished the evening with five points and five assists on 2/3 shooting.
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