Tonight’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers was a game of little fanfare—the game was being played one day after the passing of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant. The Pistons did their best to honor the fallen great, but yet the game was lackluster. Detroit lost to the Cavaliers 115-100. As we always do here at POP, here are our top 3 observations from tonight’s unfortunate loss to the Cavs.
Turnovers Killed the Pistons Momentum
The Pistons started the game off flat. As too did the Cleveland Cavaliers—both teams couldn’t seem to build consistent rhythm to help propel their respective clubs to significant leads in the first half of the game. By halftime, the score was 53-45, with the Cavs leading heading into the halftime period, but both teams committed 10 turnovers apiece. The only difference was that the Cavaliers seemed to be more able to turn those costly turnovers into actual points and they seemed more dialed-in on offense as they lead Detroit in field goal percentage at the half, 42.9% to 38.8%, shot 40% from three, while Detroit shot a dismal 27%.8 from three.
Detroit just didn’t seem engaged. They were able to make shots that I’ve even their players make on a consistent basis in other games. It could be due to fatigue, as the Pistons had played 2 games in 3 nights entering tonight’s game. But what is expected to be the bigger reason at hand for the apparent lack of execution in tonight’s game was that everyone on the team was still mourning the loss of the late great Kobe Bryant. The looks on some of the player’s faces showed as if their minds were somewhere else, and that the last thing that they wanted to do was play a game of basketball under such an emotionally devasting time. Even though Detroit attempted to stage a comeback in the second half, the lead created by Cleveland had grown too large for Detroit to recover. Hopefully, in their next game on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, the Pistons will be more engaged and focused on their gameplan.
No Derrick Rose Tonight
Now normally when the Pistons start the game slow out of the blocks, the team usually turns to their white knight off the bench in Derrick Rose…but that was not the case tonight as Rose was listed as inactive due to load management restrictions.
As what has been the case this season, when the Pistons can’t seem to control the ball and/or cannot make a shots in a game, that’s when Head Coach Dwane Casey usually turns to his bench and brings Rose into the game to help jumpstart the team and get them on the right path. Rose has been viewed as a walking bucket all season for the team. He seems to be almost unstoppable when he has the ball in his hands, and he is able to get to anywhere on the court, whenever he wants to. Even when Rose is not making his shots, his presence alone still commands the attention of Detroit’s opponents and so he is still a threat to score. When he isn’t scoring, he can still set up his teammates nicely for some good looks at the basket and keep the offense flowing and generate points on the board.
Tonight, was just a demonstration of how valuable Derrick Rose is for Detroit. He is having a terrific season and now with the team having the talents of Reggie Jackson back on the floor, Detroit should expect some good guard play from both of their leading point guards…maybe we will get a chance to witness that on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.
A Special Tribute to a Legend
After learning of the devasting news of the death and loss of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, the world was still in mourning of his untimely passing.
The Detroit Pistons organization like so many other teams in the NBA showed their own personalized respect for Bryant, his daughter and the other 7 passengers who perished in that tragic helicopter crash. The Detroit Piston players all were their alternate city uniforms with the number 24 and the last name Bryant stitched on the back of their jerseys. Some players like Reggie Jackson wore the number 8 on the front of their jersey too, as both of these numbers symbolized the retired jersey numbers of Bryant.
Before the start of the game, Pistons play-by-play announcer George Blaha asked the entire crowd in Little Caesars Arena to please stand for 24 seconds in a moment of silence as they honor the loss of Kobe Bryant.
At the start of the game, both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Detroit Pistons took a 24-second shot clock violation and an eight-second backcourt violation to continue honoring the death of Bryant.
The news and reaction to the passing of Kobe Bryant still does not feel as if it is real to a lot of fans of the game of basketball—it almost seems as if it is a living nightmare. Bryant was a player that seemed larger than life and his post-basketball career seemed as if it was on a similar trajectory. Bryant was a man that accomplished so much in his 20 years in the NBA and yet, with his untimely passing, it feels as if he was taken away from this world all too soon. His passion, dedication, discipline will be the lasting marks that he made on his game. His philosophy of the “Mamba Mentality” is not just a philosophy that can be applied to sports but to other genres or fields of work that a person contributes to. He inspired so many athletes to become better players today than they were yesterday. His legacy will never be forgotten. His moments of greatness will never be erased from our memories…
Kobe Bryant was an ICON, and the world is a sadder place now that he is no longer apart of it. Rest in peace, Kobe and Gianna Bryant!
Featured Image: Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images