Depleted Pistons hit the wall – and the wall hits back in second half of loss to Memphis
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Three quick observations from Monday night’s 96-82 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum
BRUISED AND BATTERED – The Pistons hit the wall – and the wall hit back. On a back to back – plus an overtime game on Sunday, no less – and shorthanded, give the Pistons this much: They scrapped. Without his three most gifted scorers – Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Luke Kennard – and also missing Markieff Morris and Svi Mykhailiuk, Dwane Casey used an eight-man rotation with Langston Galloway, Christian Wood and Thon Maker off of the bench. Maker played only five first-half minutes with four players – Andre Drummond, Bruce Brown, Tony Snell and Galloway playing 18 or more. Almost predictably, Memphis broke a 53-all tie by scoring the first nine points of the second half to take control. The third quarter was one for the ages – the dark ages. The Pistons shot 12 percent, 3 of 25, and struggled to score 10 points yet somehow were still hanging around to start the fourth quarter, trailing by nine points after a halftime tie. The Pistons wound up scoring just 29 second-half points – their least productive half of the season, unsurprisingly – and shot 25 percent, 11 of 44. Drummond led the Pistons with 25 points and 18 rebounds. The only healthy bodies Casey had available other than the eight Pistons who played were Tim Frazier and two-way players Jordan Bone and Louis King.
POINT GUARD PUZZLE – As bad as the Pistons injury situation was, it could have been worse. Reggie Jackson, who missed 42 games with a lower-back injury before returning Jan. 22, was questionable to play but wound up starting and playing in his first back to back of the season after logging a season-high 34 minutes on Sunday. Dwane Casey patched together point guard without Derrick Rose by staggering Jackson and Bruce Brown even though both started because Casey wanted Brown guarding Ja Morant. Brown came out four minutes into the first quarter for Langston Galloway but came back about 90 seconds later for Jackson to take over at point guard. Derrick Rose missed his eighth game of the season with left groin soreness after being shut down at halftime of Sunday’s overtime win over Denver, much to the disappointment of Memphis fans who came to embrace Rose when he took the immensely popular Memphis Tigers to the 2008 NCAA title game in his only college season. Jordan Bone, who grew up in Nashville and spent three years at the University of Tennessee, returned from the Grand Rapids Drive to give the Pistons another option at point guard in addition to Tim Frazier.
TOUGH LUCK – It was a shooting night to forget for two Pistons in particular, Reggie Jackson and Sekou Doumbouya. Both got to halftime shooting 1 of 10 with 15 of those shots coming inside the 3-point arc. Doumbouya had five first-half shots blocked at the rim and his only make came on one of his two 3-point shots. He finished 2 of15 with six shots blocked, hitting a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter on what was his final shot. Still, the 19-year-old rookie was active – the thing Dwane Casey most wanted to see from him after sitting him out of Friday’s game with Toronto. Doumbouya scored 17 points, all in the first half, of Sunday’s win over Denver. Doumbouya grabbed seven rebounds at Memphis in his 26 minutes. Jackson finished 1 of 16, missing all six of his second-half shots. He was 1 of 6 from the 3-point arc and missed all 10 of his shots inside of it. Despite Doumbouya and Jackson combining to shoot 2 of 20 in the first half, the Pistons shot 42.6 percent because the other six players hit 21 of 34 shots. In the second half, the contagion spread up and down the rotation. Only Andre Drummond (12 of 22), Christian Wood (7 of 11, 17 points) and Langston Galloway (7 of 12, 17 points) made at least half of their shots.