The shorthanded Detroit Pistons were unable to make it 3/3 against the Indiana Pacers, falling 112-106 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. As is the status quo here at Palace of Pistons, let’s run through the three makes and three misses from this tough loss.
First Make: Luke Kennard Can Shoot The Rock
Folks, it finally happened. Luke Kennard took over 20 shots in a game! The result from his 11/21 effort was 29 points, six rebounds, and five assists. The third-year man from Duke went 4/9 from deep and played nearly 42 minutes.
Pistons fans have been clamoring for Kennard to be more assertive on the offensive end. Nights like tonight show why Stan Van Gundy and Co. were so high on Kennard when he came out of Duke. The 6’5″ guard created his own shot, while also picking apart the Pacer defense.
With Blake Griffin reportedly nearing a return to the lineup, it will be interesting to see the impact it will have on Kennard. He seems to have found a groove in the expanded minutes he’s seen due to injury. Hopefully, he continues his hot play as the Pistons return to full strength.
First Miss: Andre Drummond’s Foul Issues
No one has been more vital to the Pistons success than Andre Drummond. When he racked up three fouls in the first half, coach Dwane Casey had no choice but to sit his star big man. Any chance Detroit had of winning the ball game seemingly evaporated, as they gave up the lead and never reclaimed it.
Drummond’s exit was all the invitation the Indiana front-court needed to assert their dominance as Thon Maker and Christian Wood were unable to keep Domantas Sabonis and JaKarr Sampson in check.
Staying out of foul trouble is something Drummond has done well this season. However, this loss proved how vital Andre is to Detroit’s success, especially with their currently hobbled squad.
Second Make: Langston Galloway Continues To Prove Himself
A man who often drew the ire of Pistons fans with his streaky shooting, Langston Galloway has started this season with a point to prove. Offseason speculation about his future with the team appears to have lit a fire under the 6th year guard.
Known for his flashy shoe game, Galloway has put together consistently solid minutes for Detroit to start the year. He’s currently posting the best +/- of his career at 3.6 and logging his highest minute total since the 2015/16 season.
If Langston continues to produce, teams may come calling as the deadline nears. His shooting abilities and an expiring contract may make him a tantalizing option to a midseason buyer. It will be interesting to see how Galloway and the Pistons handle business as the season progresses.
Second Miss: Letting T.J. McConnell Have His Way
Sixers fans may want to look away as Raul Neto has made himself no allies with his shaky play in Philly. Former 76er T.J. McConnell brought a spark of the bench for Indiana, tying a team-high with 17 points.
The Pistons experimented a bit tonight, running Svi as the primary ball-handler. Although this appeared to work on the offensive end for Detroit, McConnell made them pay on the other end.
Although he hadn’t done much against Detroit in their previous two meetings, that was not the case in this matchup. Shooting 8/10 on the night, McConnell made the most of his 21 minutes on the floor. The Pacers bench as a whole put up 51 points, in a solid outing. If Detroit wants to make a statement in the East, their defense cannot allow opposing benches to have success like they did tonight.
Third Make: Andre Drummond Can Create
For the third time in his career, Andre Drummond tied his career-high of eight assists. His passing has been a major plus this season for Detroit, as well as his improved ball handling.
Drummond posted a stat line of 15/13/8 on the night, which is actually a little disappointing considering the gaudy numbers he’s put up to start the season. On a night where the shots may not have been falling as much as usual, Andre was able to set the table for his teammates and create for them.
Similarly to Luke Kennard, it will be interesting to see how Blake Griffin’s return will affect Andre’s play. Having zero true point guards also has to be a contributing factor to Drummond’s increased assist numbers and it will be intriguing to see what his numbers and play look like when (if?) Detroit gets back to full strength.
Third Miss: Thon Maker Is Not It
When Thon Maker was brought in for Stanley Johnson last season, Pistons fans were excited to see what this unknown specimen could bring to the team. Thon got off to a fast start but the glimmer has faded fast on his time in Detroit.
Consistently getting outmuscled down low, failing to secure rebounds, and turnovers have all been sticking points this season when assessing Maker. The lanky big man looks to be slowly getting phased out for Christian Wood and the end of the line may be near.
Unfortunately, Maker’s poor play will make it difficult for any sort of move to take place that would benefit both parties. Hopefully the energetic 4th year big can regain his confidence and form as the season progresses.
The Pistons (and Maker’s) next chance to bounce back is this Monday against a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that just downed a hobbled Warriors team thanks to a 40 point effort from Andrew Wiggins.
Featured Image: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images