Although the Detroit Pistons got some bad news before Friday’s game about Andre Drummond, who is set to be out 4-6 weeks with a fractured tailbone, they caught fire early. The San Antonio Spurs, however, started sluggishly, leading to a Pistons snapping the Spurs’ 11-game winning streak with a 119-109 victory.
The Pistons beat the also-short-handed Spurs by getting hot from the field, leading by up to 21 in the second quarter, and maintaining that heat all the way through the game as they shot 51.7% from the field to the Spurs’ 45.7%. The Pistons also shot 10-22 from beyond the arc on the night.
Although the Pistons had an early lead of 21, before halftime it got cut down to 13, and in the fourth the Spurs were able to get it as low as 7 before Detroit gained control of the momentum again.
Several Pistons players were very impressive in the game, starting with center Greg Monroe, who had a game high 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 assists. Brandon Knight also chipped in with 24 points on 10-21 shooting. Charlie Villanueva was a big reason behind the victory for Detroit, as he played a great game, shooting 5-9 from three point land, helping him score 21 points off the bench.
San Antonio it seemed could only count on the last member of the Big Three remaining healthy, Tony Parker, to take care of business consistently as he was the catalyst throughout the game. Parker finished with 31 points on only 16 shots, while also shooting 11-12 from the charity stripe. He also had 8 assists and turned the ball over only once.
Kawhi Leonard kept his string of recent good games going, as he contributed 16 points, 5 rebounds, and stole the ball 3 times. Danny Green was also helpful, dropping in 5 three pointers, 3 of which coming in an attempted comeback in the fourth quarter.
Rebounds and points off turnovers were also key in the Pistons win, as they bested the Spurs in both categories. Detroit out-rebounded San Antonio by a sum of 49-33, with Monroe eating up everything in the paint. The Pistons had 18 points off only 8 Spurs turnovers, and got back in transition well, as the Spurs only scored 8 points off of 8 Pistons turnovers.
- Even though it was a loss, Kawhi Leonard looked extremely good on both sides of the ball. On offense, he seemed a lot more comfortable than usual handling the ball, which is a huge step in his development. He looked good as he executed a number of new moves in his offensive repertoire, as there were many jab steps, hard drives to the basket off of curls, and pull ups that fell for him on the night. At this point last year, Leonard was mainly a three and D type of guy, as he would get his points off turnovers, offensive rebounds, and corner threes. To see him come this far offensively in only about a year is very encouraging toward his growth as a player.
- The Spurs’ defense is suffering without Tim Duncan as the anchor. We all know that Duncan has been a great defensive player for the length of his career, but his importance on that side of the ball was illustrated completely tonight. Without him quarterbacking the defense, the Spurs allowed a ton of points in the paint, as Brandon Knight was able to have his way off of several drives to the basket off of a screen-hand-off from a teammate. Normally, with Duncan back there, he would have been able to provide help defense and make Knight either pass or take a highly contested shot. Instead, the Spurs had Stephen Jackson making defensive rotations a step late and allowing Knight to score. Duncan was also missed in rebounding, as the Spurs failed to get a body on the Pistons, and lost the rebounding battle by a high margin. Once Duncan comes back, these problems should be erased, as the Spurs with him have a top-5 defensive efficiency rating, but, it’s still something to look out for whenever he’s not in the game.
- Charlie Villanueva could not be stopped. He got going early on a couple shots during the Spurs’ sluggish start because they couldn’t rotate out to him fast enough, and never looked back. Although Villanueva is only a 34.9% career three point shooter, he has been known to go off from time to time. So, even if you’re playing against a team you should most definitely beat, like the Spurs were the Pistons, you still have to make sure to cover all the shooters, because f one gets gong, your night could be over.