Pistons start road trip with a solid first half, then Spurs settle the score quickly in third quarter
Gregory Shamus (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Saturday night’s 136-109 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center
BAH HUMBUG – December began on a lot sweeter note than it’s ending for the Pistons. The Pistons recorded their most lopsided win of the season – a 34-point evisceration of San Antonio – on Dec. 1. In their penultimate 2019 game, they lost by 27 to the same Spurs team. That’s not the way to start a six-game road trip that includes visits to three teams with title aspirations (Clippers, Lakers, Jazz). It was a mere four-point halftime deficit, but San Antonio dumped 42 points on the Pistons in the third quarter – their worst defensive third quarter of the season – to swell the margin to 21 points. San Antonio shot 62.5 percent in the quarter and hit 5 of 7 triples en route to its best night from the 3-point arc this season. DeMar DeRozan, who played under Dwane Casey in Toronto, torched the Pistons for 29 points, hitting 13 of 16 shots without attempting a 3-pointer. Derrick Rose led the Pistons with 24 points. The 136 points allowed were a season worst for the Pistons.
ANOTHER INJURY – With Markieff Morris missing the game with a sprained left foot, Dwane Casey pared his frontcourt rotation down to three players initially: Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and Christian Wood. Drummond got off to an assertive start with 13 points and nine rebounds while taking 10 shots in the first quarter and finished with 21 points and 18 boards. Griffin endured another tough night, finishing 3 of 16 from the field for 12 points with two rebounds in 29 minutes. The only glimmer of encouragement for Griffin is that he saw the ball go through the rim from the 3-point arc, hitting 3 of 10. He entered the game having gone 2 of 33 from three over his previous six games. The flip side: Griffin was 0 of 6 inside the arc, most of those around the rim. Thon Maker didn’t play in the first half, but entered the game late in the third quarter when the Pistons fell behind by 22 points.
3-POINT SURPRISE – San Antonio makes less use of the 3-point line than just about anyone – in fact, at 25 percent of their points scored coming from the 3-point line, the Spurs are last in the NBA – but it speaks to the way the season has gone for the Pistons that San Antonio broke form for their visit. LaMarcus Aldridge has long been a Pistons killer, but never from the 3-point line. That, too, changed. Aldridge – who came into the game 18 of 51 for the season from the arc, taking less than two triples a game – went 4 of 5 in the first half alone and finished 5 of 6, scoring 25 points. The Spurs matched their season high of 15 made triples in a game with seven minutes to play and finished 18 of 35. San Antonio’s average game from the 3-point arc: 9.4 makes in 26.5 attempts, the attempts representing an NBA low.