OKC’s No. 1 defense stifles Pistons as 5-game win streak snapped
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations on Monday night’s 110-83 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Little Caesars Arena
STREAK SNAPPER – The longest winning streak of the season ended with little suspense. The Pistons struggled through their lowest-scoring first half of the season, yet behind a late scoring burst from Blake Griffin (20 points despite not playing in the fourth quarter) trailed just 50-40. But it was over before the third quarter was out as Oklahoma City outscored the Pistons 30-14 over the first nine minutes of the quarter to take a 26-point lead. Oklahoma City entered the game as the NBA’s best defensive team and its worst 3-point shooting team at 31.2 percent, but the Pistons – not much better at 26th in 3-point shooting – staggered through a 6 of 32 performance from the arc, failing to reach their previous season low in scoring (89 vs. Boston). The XX-point loss was easily the most lopsided of the season, exceeding the 20-point margin in the Oct. 27 loss to Boston. Andre Drummond, who picked up his league-leading eighth technical foul in the third quarter, had an all-around frustrating night to finish with 13 points and six rebounds. Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams finished with 21 points, going 7 of 8 from the field and 7 of 7 at the line.
BENCH BROKEN UP – Dwane Casey has gotten great mileage out of a newly constituted bench unit over the six-game home stand. The five-man unit of Ish Smith, Stanley Johnson, Zaza Pachulia, Langston Galloway and rookie Bruce Brown didn’t get any minutes together in the first half, though, largely the fallout of Reggie Bullock’s early departure. Bullock suffered a left ankle sprain less than three minutes into the game and Casey used Galloway to replace him. Galloway took a four-minute break to start the second quarter, replaced by Luke Kennard, making his first appearance since suffering a separated shoulder on Oct. 26. When Galloway came back for Kennard, Casey brought Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson back, as well, for Pachulia and Brown. Again in the second half, they didn’t play together as a five-man unit as Galloway started for Bullock. Galloway went scoreless, missing all four of his shots, in 25 minutes. Stanley Johnson finished with nine points but went 1 of 6 from the 3-point arc. Kennard, who missed 16 games, went scoreless in 12 minutes and finished 0 of 5 shooting. Jon Leuer led the Pistons bench in scoring with 12 points over the game’s final nine minutes.
HITTING THE ROAD – The Pistons hadn’t won six straight games since Dec. 26, 2014-Jan. 7, 2015 when – after a 5-23 start and waiving Josh Smith – they won seven straight in Stan Van Gundy’s first season. The Pistons hadn’t won seven straight home games since March 14-April 4, 2008. And they hadn’t swept a six-game home stand since the 2003-04 season. Monday’s loss was the last of a six-game home stand that opened with wins over Houston, Phoenix, New York, Chicago and Golden State. The Pistons now play five of their next nine games on the road, including two games at Charlotte and one apiece at Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Minnesota. The Pistons have played 13 of their first 21 games at Little Caesars Arena. The Pistons next play at Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Bucks are 11-2 in their new arena so far this season.