What a night! The Palace was rocking from the opening introductions to the final tip as the Pistons beat the Washington Wizards 113-102. Much was said about the Pistons this offseason – the expectations are high from everyone after the signing of Josh Smith, the surprise play of Andre Drummond last year, and Greg Monroe’s continuing maturation into one of the game’s best big men, and last night all 3 showed flashes of what people have been so excited about all offseason.
- Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope showed flashes of why the Pistons thought so highly of him in the draft – he finished with 9 points in 27 minutes, but he showed that he’s going to do what it takes to make Piston fans accept him with his hard nosed perimeter D (2 steals), and his aggressive cuts to the basket for easy dunks and layups.
- Josh Smith is a box score filler, and last night didn’t disappoint: 19 points (3-7 from 3), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block.
- Chauncey Billups received the largest ovation of the night during pre-game introductions, and Natalie was there to capture it.
- The Wizards and their fans are as excited about their young backcourt, as we are about Monroe and Drummond. Bradley Beal and John Wall combined for 39 points on 14-49 shooting, with Wall finishing with 11 assists.
- Trevor Ariza was hot from 3 in the first half and ended up leading all scorers with 28 points (6-11 from 3)
- Did anyone else notice the emotion from Greg Monroe last night? Monroe dominated on the offensive end which lead to several trips to the foul line (15 attempts) to go along with dunks and layups finished with mean mugging and primal screams.
- The movement on the offensive end was impressive – all of the Pistons that played came out with high energy and they played well as a team.
- Coach Cheeks did what Lawrence Frank couldn’t do, he won his first game as Coach of the Pistons.
- With Stuckey out for the
foreseeable futureuntil likely Friday’s game against Memphis (thanks pistonsfan101), and Brandon Jennings out another week or two with a fractured jaw, the backcourt rotation of Bynum, KCP, Billups, and Kyle Singler stepped up with big numbers and solid defense on the young Wizards backcourt.
- Who else heard the MVP chants by the crowd when Billups was announced with the starters?
- Andre Drummond is going to earn the mantle of “Putback King” from Natalie after several emphatic dunks off of teammate misses.
You watch these guys all preseason and you think to yourself, “well, they’re only playing preseason. Let’s see what they do in the regular season”, and you expect them to come out a little flat with Coach Cheeks’ new rotation. With Siva, Mitchell and Datome all relegated to “new guy” minutes, Coach Cheeks leaned heavily on Monroe and Smith to play extended minutes, and he counted on Chauncey to get 31 minutes out of his weary legs.
Aside from the 18 turnovers, the Pistons looked great on both ends of the floor. With both teams being teams that love to run in the open court, the score was not surprising. The score was as close as it was thanks to solid 3 point shooting by the Wizards, which counted for approximately 30% of their points for the night.
Next up the Pistons travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies and familiar face, Tayshaun Prince. The Grizzlies have a new coach as well, but still retain many of the pieces that lead them to deep playoff runs the last 2 seasons. They will need to count on big games from Josh Smith, Billups and Bynum as reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will match up well with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Should be a good early test for the young Pistons squad.