Robinson’s first start with the Pistons nearly ends with him a hero

Glenn Robinson III scored 16 points in his first start with the Pistons and had a chance to win it on a 3-pointer in the final seconds
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

DETROIT – The ball looked good coming off of his hand. Glenn Robinson III thought so, too, as he flashed back to March 5, 2017. In the same situation, Robinson experienced his best NBA moment. Playing for the Indiana Pacers, trailing Atlanta by two points, Robinson drained a corner three to win the game.

“It kind of ran back in my mind,” he said. “Couple years ago, I hit a game winner at Atlanta – same corner, same shot, same rhythm. It felt good. I’ll be ready to knock it down next time.”

The Pistons trailed Miami by a point, 116-115, after Josh Richardson’s triple with 1:06 left and one fruitless possession for each team when Robinson took a pass in the corner by the Heat bench. The storybook ending, on a night Robinson was making his first start with the Pistons, would have seen that ball go in and Robinson mobbed by his teammates.

Instead, the quarter-inch less loft than Robinson needed saw the ball graze the rim and bound away, Miami chasing down the loose ball and making four free throws in the final two seconds. The Pistons absorbed their fifth straight loss with two of those games decided in overtime and a third on the final possession.

Robinson’s performance was the silver living as he provided 16 points on a night the Pistons big three of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson combined for 75. It maybe wasn’t coincidence that all three had big games on a night the Pistons got a semblance of 3-point shooting from their wings, Langston Galloway giving the Pistons 21 points off of the bench in addition to Robinson’s contributions.

“Glenn came in and gave us unbelievable minutes,” Griffin said. “This was, I think, our most complete game. The team obviously didn’t get the win, but I thought a lot of guys really played well.”

Even with the last-minute miss, Robinson shot 50 percent both overall and from the 3-point arc in four attempts. Stanley Johnson, replaced as a starter by Robinson, missed both of his shots in a scoreless 14 minutes and is now shooting 24 percent from the 3-point arc and 34 percent overall.

“Our issue’s been shooting,” Dwane Casey said. “It’s nothing Stanley did wrong. How many games did we lose in a row? Four in a row. Change it up, get spacing, whatever it is. I thought Glen came in and gave us shooting.”

Robinson had been squeezed for minutes when the Pistons had their full complement of wings available. His averages in the seven games he’d played were 3.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 12.9 minutes before playing a season-high 30 minutes against Miami.

“It’s a big difference – for confidence, for rhythm, for everything,” Robinson said. “You can just get a feel of the game. Coach, he’s telling me to run the floor, take my open shots and I know how to play well off of others. I like some of the things we did out there today and hopefully we keep building on it.”

Had Blake Griffin not fouled out in the final minute of regulation, chances are he’d have had the ball in his hands on that final possession. But there was no quibbling with the quality of the shot the Pistons wound up getting from Robinson, a 40 percent 3-point shooter over the past two seasons.

“I’ll take Glenn Robinson’s look right there at the end to put us up any time of the day,” Casey said.

Based on his first start, Robinson’s in line to get plenty more chances to make important shots for the Pistons. And when Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard return from injury, the Pistons figure to start making up some ground on the rest of the NBA’s teams in 3-point shooting, where they currently rank 29th at 30.6 percent.

“I think Glen is one of those guys – he doesn’t hurt you in any way,” Griffin said. “His ceiling is high. He’s just a very solid basketball player who can hit shots, defend multiple positions, get to the rim, crazy athletic. I thought he was great tonight.”