Casey goes to a potential KO lineup and Pistons close with a rush to beat Mavs
Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 124-117 win over the Dallas Mavericks at Little Caesars Arena
1-BLUEPRINT UNEARTHED – Maybe the most notable thing about the second preseason game came in the last 4:32 of the third quarter. That’s when Dwane Casey brought Derrick Rose and Luke Kennard off of the bench to play with the core trio of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. The Pistons – after another sluggish start that saw them fall 15 behind in the second quarter – trailed by five points at the time. They scored on five of their seven possessions to end the quarter to tie the game at 86 entering the fourth, when the Rose and Kennard-led second unit opened with a 9-0 run. In those two developments, the Pistons might have unearthed the first meaningful blueprint for their season. The belief is that the depth they added over the summer will give them a strong second unit with Rose and Kennard as the scoring anchors. Folding them in with the Griffin-Drummond-Jackson group could give them the knockout punch to win close games, diversifying the offense from last season when it was so heavily reliant on Griffin. Kennard finished with 19 points on just eight shots, hitting 5 of 6 from the 3-point line, while Rose had 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting, adding five assists in 24 minutes. The Pistons scored 74 points in the second half to finish with 52 percent shooting.
2-GETTING THE KINKS OUT – When you only have two games to go on, anything that happens twice constitutes a trend. For the second straight game, the Pistons dug a double-digit deficit in the first half due to too many turnovers (eight in the first quarter alone), poor shooting and surrendering too many quality 3-point shots. The Pistons – as they did in the preseason-opening loss on Monday – shot under 40 percent overall and under 30 percent from the 3-point arc in the first half while committing 11 turnovers. They trailed 59-50 at halftime after going 15 down midway through the quarter. Dallas shot 40 percent on 20 first-half 3-point attempts, including a handful of transition threes. When the Mavs hit consecutive transition threes in the second quarter, Casey got a timeout. The second unit struggled in the second quarter on both ends and put Dallas at the line way too often. The Mavs finished with 38 foul shots. Among areas of improvement for the Pistons: ball movement. They picked up 31 assists on 46 baskets with nine players recording at least two.
3-NO KNOCK ON WOOD – Something else the second preseason game had in common with the first was another positive step for Christian Wood. Wood finished with five points, six rebounds and two assists in nine minutes. Entering with six minutes left in the first half, Wood put together a string of impressive plays: a pass to a cutting Reggie Jackson for a layup on his first offensive possession, an offensive rebound grabbed out of his area followed by a layup operating out of a pick-and-roll situation with Blake Griffin, an offensive foul drawn while guarding massive Boban Marjanovic, another offensive rebound off of a missed Tony Snell 3-pointer followed by a pass to a cutting Snell for a layup. Wood played only the final 2:42 of the second half as Casey gave Thon Maker more time with the second unit when it got on a roll in the fourth quarter. Maker had a better night than the opener, finishing with five points, two rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal in 15 minutes.