Bench powers Pistons to runaway win over Spurs as seven hit double figures
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Sunday night’s 132-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs at Little Caesars Arena
RUNAWAY WIN – The Spurs – whose 22 straight playoff appearances is tied for the NBA record – aren’t the Spurs anymore at 7-14, but the Pistons aren’t about to qualify their runaway win after suffering two last-possession losses to Charlotte last week. The Pistons led from wire to wire, but didn’t really put the game away until the last three minutes of the third quarter when a bench unit closed the quarter on a 15-2 run. The bench was really the story of the game, finishing with 75 points and placing four in double figures. Christian Wood had a dazzling outing, scoring a career-high 28 points to go with 10 rebounds in 21 minutes, hitting 11 of 14. Derrick Rose (10), Svi Mykhailiuk (13) and Markieff Morris (10) joined Wood in double figures and Langston Galloway finished two points shy of making it all five of the regular second-unit players hitting double figures. Three starters also finished in double figures. Sekou Doumbouya scored his first NBA points on a layup after entering the game in the final three minutes and finished with four points.
CEMENTING STATUS – Nothing much is permanent in the NBA, but Christian Wood has wrested the last rotation spot in Dwane Casey’s frontcourt from Thon Maker, it appears. – and Sunday’s emphatic showing surely earned him a little more cushion in that position battle. Wood, averaging 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 14 minutes a game, had one of his best stints of the season in Sunday’s second quarter when he contributed nine points and four rebounds in seven minutes, helping the Pistons expand their lead from five to 15 over that time. Wood hit 4 of 5 shots, including his only 3-pointer. He dunked twice in traffic and scored on a move to the basket through traffic that underscores his unique ability for a big man. He might have been even more impressive in the last three minutes of the third quarter when he replaced Andre Drummond after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich employed the intentional-foul strategy on the previous possession. Wood sparked the 15-2 closing run that blew open the game. Maker played the final two minutes of Monday’s win over Orlando and the final four minutes on Sunday after the Pistons had locked it down and didn’t appear in the back-to-back losses to Charlotte sandwiching Thanksgiving.
BOUNCING BACK – Luke Kennard’s 3-point percentage dipped under 40 when he went 8 of 33 over a recent five-game span, during which he experienced nagging hip and hand injuries, but he’s rebounded to go 14 of 26 over his last four games. After averaging 8.5 points over the last four games of his five-game cool stretch, Kennard has rebounded over the last four to average 19.3 points. Kennard, who averaged 9.7 points a game during his second season, has improved that mark to 16.7 in his third season while seeing an even more dramatic rise in his assists totals, from 1.8 to 4.4. Kennard’s minutes have also risen accordingly, from 23 to 34 a game. He got the Pistons off and running against San Antonio with 11 points in the first seven minutes, hitting his first three 3-point attempts. He finished with 20 points, hitting 4 of 6 triples.