Three quick observations from Monday night’s 110-108 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Little Caesars Arena
ALL TOGETHER – For the first time in three preseason games, Dwane Casey got to see all three of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson at the same time. The verdict: TBD. They’ll need more time – a lot more time – to evaluate and figure this out. Griffin and Jackson made their preseason debuts in the overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets but their time together was abbreviated by early foul trouble for Drummond and ragged early play. The Pistons opened the game 1 of 14 and fell behind 20-6, by which point Drummond had retreated to the bench with a second foul at 7:43 and Jackson, on a minutes limit, soon followed. They were much sharper in their time together to open the third quarter – including a sequence that produced triples for Reggie Bullock, Luke Kennard and Jackson. Griffin looked sharp with 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. Drummond had a nightmarish shooting night, starting 1 of 12 and finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. He missed near the rim on the last possession of overtime to seal the win for the Nets, ending the night 6 of 21 from the field. Jackson had six points and two assists in 17 minutes, shooting 2 of 7. D’Angelo Russell’s triple with 10 seconds left erased a 100-99 Pistons lead provided by a Langston Galloway jumper with 22 seconds left in regulation. The Pistons tied it on Drummond’s needle-threading pass to Bullock for a layup with 7.2 to play.The Pistons, 5 of 18 from three in the first half, finished 15 of 38 from the 3-point arc.
WING JOCKEYING – Dwane Casey cautions at every turn not to read much into his preseason lineups and rotation decisions. So maybe it was significant and maybe it wasn’t that for the first time Casey had all three of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson together he chose Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard to start in the two wing positions. It gives the Pistons their two best shooters to go with a lineup that could use the floor spacing that efficient 3-point shooting provides. The question becomes how well Bullock and Kennard can hold up defensively. This could well be just one look at that combination with Casey exploring further over the final two preseason games with different combinations at the wings among the foursome of Kennard, Bullock, Stanley Johnson and Glenn Robinsin III. Johnson, after playing heavy minutes in last week’s games at Oklahoma City and San Antonio, sat out Monday. Langston Galloway, the dark horse in the race for minutes at those spots, took advantage of his opportunity by scoring 12 of his 24 points in the first half when the Pistons otherwise struggled to find scoring.
GOING SMALL – In addition to figuring out the wing rotation, Dwane Casey’s priority list includes getting a good look at various small-ball lineups. Midway through the second quarter, he got a glimpse of one that included Andre Drummond playing with four guards: Reggie Bullock, Langston Galloway, Bruce Brown and Reggie Jackson. Bullock was nominally the power forward, guarding DeMarre Carroll, and Galloway was the small forward. Brown continues to get looks from Casey, this time playing a position other than point guard with Jackson seeing his first action. Brown’s calling cards are his defense and toughness, his offense still a work in progress. In the fourth quarter, Casey used a similar lineup with Ish Smith, Galloway, Bullock and camp invitee Zach Lofton around first Zaza Pachulia and then Drummond, Brown replacing Lofton midway through the quarter. Bullock, after shooting 5 of 14 in the first two games, started 0 of 8 against Brooklyn. His first make came on a Nets goaltending call. But he finished 4 of 12 and scored 10 points. Robinson played exclusively at power forward for his 23 minutes.