With Griffin still out, hard-pressed Pistons give rookie Doumbouya first NBA start
Andrew D. Bernstein (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Thursday night’s 126-112 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center
SEKOU DEBUT – It was a new year’s revolution. Some 355 days after Blake Griffin scored 44 points in his return to Staples Center, the return match was marked by Griffin sitting out with knee soreness – and by Sekou Doumbouya making his first NBA start. Baptism by fire? Baptism by raging inferno. Doumbouya was paired against MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, but there was no timidity to his play. Doumbouya finished with a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He picked up three fouls in nine first-quarter minutes – the last two ill-advised, swatting from behind on layup attempts that resulted in and-one opportunities – but also grabbed six rebounds and got up six shots, though the only make was a breakaway dunk. He picked up a fourth foul early in the second half by trying to contest an entry pass to Leonard 25 feet from the basket. Doumbouya played 27 minutes, finishing with five fouls. He hit 4 of 11 shots shots, but went 0 of 4 from the 3-point arc. All in all, he showed the rough edges that the Pistons would prefer to round off in the G League but you don’t have to squint very hard to see what has them so excited for Doumbouya’s future.
THIRD-QUARTER QUAGMIRE – If there’s a theme for the current six-game road trip – now half over with the Pistons 0-3 – it’s been disastrous third quarters. At San Antonio, the Pistons trailed 59-55 at halftime but were outscored 42-25 in the third quarter and lost 136-109. At Utah, the Pistons led 40-39 at halftime but were outscored 29-18 in the third quarter – after an early 16-2 run – and lost 104-81. Against the Clippers, they trailed 69-63 at halftime but were outscored 37-16 in the third quarter and lost 126-112. The Pistons stayed close – and led for much of the first half – because of a strong game from their bench. The Pistons fell behind by 31 before a fourth-quarter push, pulling within 10 in the final few minute. They wound up with five players off of their bench scoring in double figures. Bruce Brown had 15 points and six assists, Derrick Rose and Christian Wood 14 apiece, Langston Galloway 11 and Thon Maker 10. A total nine Pistons finished in double figures.
MAN OF THE PEOPLE – The first NBA All-Star fan voting results were released on Thursday and Derrick Rose was fourth among Eastern Conference backcourt players with 233,669 votes. He trails Trae Young (443,412), Kyrie Irving (432,481) and Kemba Walker (432,031) and is ahead of Zach LaVine (174,991). Dwane Casey said, “I was excited to see that. I’ve had a lot of guards in my time and he’s right at the top of the list. He’s a winner, a team-first guy and I love his spirit, so I was excited to see him get those votes and I hope the fans continue to vote because he’s what this league is about, to come through the adversity he’s been through with his body and stick with it, not give in to whatever the naysayers are saying.” Rose finished with six assists in addition to scoring 14 points.