Pistons snap losing streak – and end Boston’s 8-game win streak
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Saturday night’s 113-104 win over the Boston Celtics at Little Caesars Arena
STREAK SNAPPERS – Just like you figured: The Pistons, sporting the NBA’s longest losing streak at six, got back in the win column at the expense of the league’s hottest team, Boston. The Celtics had won eight straight but the Pistons used a 13-0 run early in the third quarter to take the lead and end a frustrating and injury-riddled run of losses against a rugged stretch of schedule. The Pistons avoided falling under .500 after the losing streak had wiped the cushion of a 13-7 start. The Pistons, playing against the NBA’s No. 2 defense, scored 33 points in the first quarter and 28 in the third and then hung on against a Boston rally fueled by turnovers and Pistons fouls. The Pistons led by 16 with less than six minutes to play when the offense went stagnant, much as it had in losing a 10-point lead in the final six minutes to lose at Charlotte in their last game, and Boston pulled within seven with less than four minutes to play on a 9-0 run. But a big triple by Reggie Bullock on the next possession pushed the lead to 10 and Blake Griffin hit four straight free throws on the next two trips to expand the lead back to 14. Griffin finished with 27 points to lead the Pistons, while Andre Drummond finished with 19 points, 20 rebounds and five blocked shots – including a game-sealing denial of Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt with the Pistons up nine points and about 1:30 left.
BULLOCK-KENNARD – Getting Reggie Bullock back allowed Dwane Casey to pair Bullock and Luke Kennard in the starting lineup for the first time this season. In fact, they’d played together in only two games all year – the second and third games of the season, both wins – for a total of nine minutes. The lineup that gives Casey his best 3-point shooting to put around Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, Bullock and Kennard helped get the Pistons off to a strong start, each scoring seven points in the first quarter and combining to make 3 of 5 3-pointers. Bullock finished with 15 points, hitting 4 of 10 from the 3-point arc. Kennard scored 10 points and made both of his 3-point shots and all four of his field-goal attempts, his minutes limited in the second half as Casey opted to use more of Bruce Brown and Langston Galloway with the Pistons protecting a lead. While Bullock and Kennard played together, the Pistons scored 26 points in nine minutes to start the game and 23 more in the first nine-plus minutes of the third quarter.
THE BENCH IS BACK – With Reggie Bullock returning one game after Stanley Johnson came back, the Pistons again had the depth to cobble together an effective second unit – the key to their five-game winning streak that preceded the string of losses. Jose Calderon is in at point guard for Ish Smith with that unit – Smith remains out with a torn adductor muscle and is due to be re-evaluated late next week – which on Saturday included Jon Leuer, Bruce Brown, Langston Galloway and Johnson. Leuer stood in at center for Zaza Pachulia, who missed the game due to illness. As important as Smith and Pachulia were during the bench’s hot roll, Calderon and Leuer are capable of giving them productive minutes. Calderon fouled out with five points and seven assists in 24 minutes, Galloway scored 14 points and Johnson had four points and two rebounds in 12 minutes.