Spurs break form, break out 3-point offense to get Pistons trip off on the wrong foot
Logan Reily (NBAE/Getty)
SAN ANTONIO – You know things have changed in the NBA when the Pistons embark on a six-game road trip and two of their best opportunities for wins come at San Antonio, the enduring dynasty of the past generation, and Golden State, the dominant team of the decade.
So that wasn’t the optimal way to begin their longest trip of the season – one that will take them to all four time zones over 11 days – as San Antonio exacted revenge for the 34-point hammering the Pistons administered to the Spurs to open December.
San Antonio’s 136-109 win established a season high for points allowed by the Pistons, 42 of them coming in a decisive third quarter – also the worst defensive third quarter of their season – that saw a four-point halftime deficit swell to 21 entering the fourth quarter.
“They really came out and blitzed us,” Langston Galloway said. “We were getting the first and second rotation, but the third rotation was killing us tonight. They knocked down some big, key shots.”
Most of them came from the 3-point line, out of character for the Spurs. San Antonio takes the fewest number of 3-point attempts per game, 26.5, and gets less offense from the 3-point arc than any NBA team, a mere 25 percent of its points.
Against the Pistons, the Spurs hit 18 of 35 – nearly doubling their average output of 9.4 triples per game.
“We gave up 52 percent from the 3-point line and some of those were ‘dare shots,’ ” Dwane Casey said. “There’s no player in this league that gets paid twice a month you can dare to shoot the ball.”
The two most prolific Spurs were also two of their unlikeliest snipers. LaMarcus Aldridge came into the game hitting 18 of 51 triples for the season, taking fewer than two attempts per game. So, of course, he knocked down 5 of 6. Rudy Gay came in shooting 30 percent from the arc on 3.2 attempts a game. Naturally, he hit 4 of 7.
The one Spur who didn’t do any of his damage from the 3-point arc was lethally accurate inside of it. DeMar DeRozan, so familiar to Casey from their time together in Toronto, led San Antonio with 29 points by hitting 13 of 16 shots.
San Antonio’s 18 triples topped their previous season high by three.
“Bad communication,” said Derrick Rose, who scored 15 of his 24 in the first half to keep the Pistons in the game. “A lot of ’em weren’t contested, so you give anybody enough time to go out there and line up a shot like that, they’re going to hit it.”
Andre Drummond also did most of his damage in the first half, putting up 13 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter alone on his way to 21 and 18.
“This team is very good here at home,” Drummond said. “They came out and did what they did best. They played together, they took the right shots and they took some tough shots, too, that were contested. It was just a good night for them overall.”
And another very tough night for Blake Griffin. Though he took a step toward breaking out of his horrific 3-point slump – Griffin was 2 of 33 over his previous six games – by hitting 3 of 10, he was 3 of 16 overall and finished with 12 points and two rebounds in 29 minutes.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Pistons now. Next up is Utah, historically one of the most difficult places for the Pistons to come away with wins, and, after that, the powerful Clippers.
“A lot of breakdowns in all aspects,” Galloway said of Saturday’s loss. “We’ve got to be better than that, especially to start this road trip. We’ve got to be better.”