No Drummond, no Griffin, shorthanded Pistons can’t generate enough scoring in loss at Philly
Three quick observations from Tuesday night’s 106-86 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center
BACKUP BIGS SHINE – Maybe no question for the Pistons has been answered more affirmatively than the picture at center behind Andre Drummond. There couldn’t be a sterner test for the Drummond-less Pistons than facing a Philadelphia team with Joel Embiid in the lineup. Embiid inflicted his typical damage on the Pistons – he had 20 points at halftime, hitting 8 of 8 foul shots – and finished with 24, but Philadelphia ran its offense through him on nearly every possession and that will yield big numbers against any opponent. Playing without their top three big men – Blake Griffin sat out with hamstring soreness, Markieff Morris with bronchitis and Drummond with a planned rest day – it was an opportunity for Dwane Casey to sort out the rest of his frontcourt rotation. Maker and Wood combined for 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists. Maker – whom Casey said on Monday has had the best two weeks of all Pistons big men – finished with two points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Wood, on a non-guaranteed contract, added 19 points and 10 boards.
ROUGH NIGHT – The Pistons shot just 32 percent, but it wasn’t exactly a team-wide malady. Point guards Reggie Jackson (1 of 8) and Derrick Rose (2 of 10) combined to shoot just 16.6 percent. Jackson is now shooting 28.8 percent in four preseason games, 27.7 percent from the 3-point arc. Rose came into the game shooting 51.5 percent. None of his 10 shots at Philadelphia came from the 3-point line, all of them either at the rim or from the free-throw line and in. Tim Frazier played all of his 10 minutes in the second half and he also struggled, shooting 1 of 5. The Pistons trailed by 10 points after three quarters but scored just 18 points in the fourth quarter. The Pistons finished 6 of 26 from the 3-point arc for 22 percent.
ROTATION NOTES – Without Drummond and Griffin not in the starting lineup, Luke Kennard and Thon Maker joined the first unit. The second unit consisted of Christian Wood, Joe Johnson, Svi Mykhailiuk, Langston Galloway and Derrick Rose. It’s clear that Khyri Thomas is No. 6 in the pecking order on the wings behind Tony Snell, Bruce Brown, Kennard, Galloway and Mykhailiuk, getting limited minutes (eight over the first three preseason games, five at Philadelphia) with only one preseason game remaining. Mykhailiuk’s offensive potential shows up in flashes. His shooting range extends beyond the 3-point line. He drained a transition three in the first half when the Pistons were having trouble generating much in the way of half-court offense, but he finished just 1 of 4 from the 3-point arc and is now at 25 percent from the arc in four games. Thomas took one shot and missed it against the 76ers. Snell wound up with 17 points in 24 minutes, hitting 2 of 5 from the 3-point line and 6 of 11 overall.