Griffin, Jackson sit out again as Pistons fall to 1-1 with loss at San Antonio
Mark Sobhani (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Friday night’s 117-93 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center
BALANCING ACT – Dwane Casey admits it’s important to build chemistry between Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson after that group was limited to about 30 minutes together last season, but he’s being cautious with his use of Griffin and Jackson in the preseason. So it was that both players sat out again as the Pistons fell to 1-1 with a lopsided loss at San Antonio. The Pistons have three games next week to wrap up the preseason and that’ll have to be enough for them to jell before the Oct. 17 regular-season opener against Brooklyn at Little Caesars Arena. Drummond finished with 18 points and 10 minutes in 25 minutes after going for 31 and 16 two nights earlier, but the Pistons shot poorly. They finished 10 of 39 from the 3-point arc and are now at 25 percent in two preseason games from the arc. A 14-0 Spurs run late in the first quarter to put the Pistons behind by 13 effectively decided the game. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who frequently rests his star players during the regular season, played all of his top players in this one.
ELLENSON’S OPENING –The Pistons were shorthanded up front with Jon Leuer still recovering from August knee surgery, Zaza Pachulia not with the team due to personal reasons and Blake Griffin sitting out. That meant plenty of playing time for Henry Ellenson, who made his second straight start. Ellenson finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes and generally helped his case for opening the season in the rotation. In 14 first-half minutes, Ellenson had eight points, five rebounds and two assists, hitting 3 of 5 shots. He played center when Andre Drummond took a rest and so had to spend a good chunk of his night guarding a pair of All-Stars, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Both Glenn Robinson and Stanley Johnson got some minutes at power forward, as well, but both suffered through rough shooting nights. Johnson was 2 of 11 overall, 1 of 7 from the 3-point arc and finished with 11 points and four rebounds in 29 minutes.
BULLISH ON BROWN – Dwane Casey has been impressed with Bruce Brown since Summer League and keeps giving him chances to make an impression. Brown got the start at point guard – Jose Calderon started the preseason opener two nights earlier – and logged 16 minutes at San Antonio. Brown didn’t put much of a dent in the box score, finishing with five points, two rebounds an an assist. After getting the ball over half court, Brown became less a point guard and more of a spot-up shooter, usually handing the ball off and stationing himself in the corner. He was at his best going to the basket, getting to the line to go 5 of 6. Brown was the 42nd pick in the draft, taken four spots after the Pistons traded two second-rounders to Philadelphia to get the chance to draft Khryi Thomas and 24 spots after San Antonio took his Miami teammate, Lonnie Walker IV, with the 18th pick. Walker didn’t enter the game until the start of the fourth quarter, then hit all three of his shots in five minutes before turning an ankle when he landed after hitting his last basket. Thomas made his preseason debut, playing the last seven minutes and scoring two points on a tough left-handed finish in transition. Also debuting was Keenan Evans, who went scoreless in three minutes. He’s on a two-way contract.