Wright, Grant, Ellington power Pistons past Philadelphia
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Monday night’s 119-104 win over the Philadelphia 76ers at Little Caesars Arena
FINALLY, A BREAK – News flash: The Philadelphia 76ers are a less formidable team than the 12-5 record they took into Monday night’s game without Joel Embiid in the lineup. Saddle Ben Simmons with foul trouble that limit him to seven first-half minutes and Philadelphia’s problems compound. The Pistons used Simmons’ absence to build a 14-point halftime lead. After losing their last four games by a total of 19 points – the largest deficit, eight points, came in overtime – the Pistons finally caught a break and took advantage. Philadelphia cut the lead to seven in the third quarter but the Pistons again led by 14 to start the fourth and they weren’t seriously threatened after that.
Jerami Grant, after seeing his streaks of 15 straight games as the Pistons’ leading scorer and going over 20 points each time snapped in Saturday’s game, got back on track with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Grant tied Jerry Stackhouse’s franchise record of making at least two 3-point baskets in a 16th straight game. He picked up a fourth foul early in the third quarter but returned to start the fourth and stabilize the offense. The Pistons hit 19 of 20 first-half free throws with both Grant and Delon Wright making 6 of 6. Playing without Derrick Rose again, the Pistons had to cobble together scoring off the bench wherever they could find it. Josh Jackson led the second unit with 12 points and seven rebounds but was ejected when he picked up a second technical foul with 7:33 to play
STILL SIZZLING – Wayne Ellington came into the game having made a franchise-record 21 3-point baskets over his last four games and he didn’t take his foot off the gas, making four more in Monday’s first half alone and finishing 6 of 9 from three to give him 27 threes over his last five games. Ellington hit another transition triple in the third quarter to repel a Philadelphia rally and had another one taken away when Blake Griffin was called for a moving screen. Nine of his 10 shots against the 76ers came from the 3-point arc and his 20 points came on 10 shots. Ellington is now shooting better than 50 percent from the 3-point arc this season, making 40 of 77 for 51.9 percent. And for as good as Ellington was again, he was outshone by his backcourt partner, Delon Wright. Wright scored a season-high 28 points, hitting 8 of 12 shots, 4 of 8 from the 3-point arc and 8 of 9 foul shots. He also had seven rebounds, nine assists and two steals.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS – With Derrick Rose missing his second straight game, there were minutes to be had off the bench for Saben Lee again. Lee, who picked up four assists without committing a turnover in 12 minutes in Saturday’s game with Philadelphia, finished with four points and an assist in 12 minutes. The second-round pick, 38th overall, is playing on a two-way contract and can only be active with the Pistons for 50 games, but that should give Dwane Casey enough opportunities to get Lee a fairly thorough indoctrination to the NBA and give him a solid framework to put together an off-season plan to approach his second season. One thing Casey loves about Lee is his defensive tenacity in a highly athletic 6-foot-2 package. “Saben brings a defensive intensity,” Casey said Monday. “He’s an attack point guard that does a good job of getting where he wants to go into the paint, which I like. He’s a smart player. He’s improved his shooting. He’s everything about what we’re trying to build, but his defensive approach is second to none as far as sticking his nose in there. He’s a tough kid. I guess he took after his dad.” Lee’s father, Amp Lee, was an NFL running back who starred at Florida State and played nine seasons in the NFL.