Pistons, without 4 of top 8 players, pull away from Hornets to wrap up preseason 3-2
Jesse D. Garrabrant (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 116-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Center
FOUR OFF THE FLOOR – Preseason plans often go awry and so it was for Dwane Casey. He hoped to use one of the last two games to fashion a rotation akin to what he expects to use in next week’s regular-season opener, but minor injuries got in the way. The Pistons played without four of their top eight players – Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard – in the preseason finale at Charlotte, winning to finish at 3-2. That was a night after losing at Philadelphia without Griffin, Andre Drummond and Markieff Morris, who also figures in the top eight. Throwing patchwork lineups together – Tim Frazier started at point guard with Bruce Brown and two-way contract rookie Jordan Bone also running the point – the Pistons pulled away in the fourth quarter after leading 89-88 after three. They saw a 16-point lead shrink to three with 40 seconds left after Casey cleared his bench, but Jordan Bone made 3 of 4 free throws in the final half-minute to preserve the win. Morris finished with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting, while Andre Drummond (17 points, 15 rebounds) and Tim Frazier (15 points, 12 rebounds) recorded double-doubles. Langston Galloway scored 18 off of the bench. Galloway and Tony Snell took a combined 23 shots, 21 of them from the 3-point arc.
NEW WRINKLE – It was as much because Dwane Casey had few options as anything else, but midway through the second quarter he used a lineup that paired Christian Wood with Andre Drummond. They finished the first half among a group that was rounded out by Tim Frazier at point guard and Tony Snell and Langston Galloway on the wings. The Pistons scored 28 points over the last seven minutes of the quarter, coming from nine points down to lead by three at halftime. When Wood entered with 5:43 to play, the Pistons trailed 42-39. They scored on 10 of their 14 possessions to finish the half. The ball movement of that group was as crisp as the Pistons achieved throughout their five-game preseason schedule. Frazier continues to show he’s a top-notch No. 3 point guard, Drummond passed well out of the high post, Snell and Galloway knocked down corner threes and Wood continued to help his case to earn a roster berth. Wood finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes, knocking down a 3-pointer in a spurt that helped clinch the win for the Pistons.
GALLOWAY SURGES – Dwane Casey continues to say he’ll keep the back end of the rotation fluid – different players stepping into it on different nights, depending on matchups and game situation – but Langston Galloway looks like he’s first in line for minutes after the every-game bench staples of Luke Kennard, Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris. Svi Mykhailiuk has been given the most chances to change that equation, but Galloway’s more reliable defense will be the tiebreaker unless and until Mykhailiuk proves the superior scorer. Neither had shot particularly well going into the preseason finale – Mykhaliuk was 3 of 12 from three, Galloway 4 of 12 – but Galloway pulled ahead at Charlotte, hitting 5 of 13 from the 3-point arc in his 18-point night. Mykailiuk finished with five points, going 1 of 6 from the 3-point line and 2 of 8 overall.