After losses in their first two games of the Las Vegas Summer League, the Pistons needed a turnaround and confidence booster.
They got both on Monday.
The Pistons used hot shooting in the first half, jumped out to a double-digit lead and cruised to a 105-97 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday at Cox Pavilion.
The Pistons finished the preliminary portion of the Summer League at 1-2 and will be seeded to play in the tournament with all 30 teams. They’re guaranteed at least two more games this week.
Henry Ellenson bounced back after struggling with his offense in the first two losses, shooting 5-of-12 from the field and 1-of-4 on 3-pointers. He finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six turnovers.
Rookies Khyri Thomas (4-of-5 from the field) and Bruce Brown Jr. had 12 points each and Zach Lofton added 10 points off the bench.
It was part of a bigger offensive turnaround, as the Pistons didn’t outscore their opponents in any of their first eight quarters; they won all four quarters, which is important in the Summer League format, helping their seeding.
The Pistons’ 105 points are the second-highest of the Las Vegas Summer League so far; the Pelicans (2-1) had 110 on Saturday.
Here are some other observations from the Pistons’ Summer League victory:
•Ellenson looked to be in a much better rhythm after looking off in his first two games. He had nine of his 13 points in the first quarter, including a corner 3-pointer. He packed the stat sheet. He handled the ball much more on the perimeter and as he said he’s been encouraged by coach Dwane Casey to do, he initiated fast breaks after getting a rebound.
“That’s been the plan so far — to let me get the ball off the rim and getting out in transition,” Ellenson said on ESPNU after the game. “Just have to clean up some decision-making but so far, it’s been good.”
•The Pistons had shot below 40 percent in each of the first two games, but after starting 18-of-22 from the field on Monday, they hovered around 70 percent for the first half, with a 61-46 lead.
“We needed that to go, because the first two games, we didn’t shoot the ball as well,” Ellenson said. “We were due and it was nice the way we started the game to get going.”
•The rookies looked strong again, each finishing with 12 points. Thomas looked smooth, hitting a corner 3-pointer and a drive in the first quarter. Defensively, he also looked to be plugged in again, as he was in the first two games. He also had a nice pass, finding an open cutter to the rim for a dunk.
“Khyri is locking up and Bruce has been showing his versatility,” Ellenson said.
•The veteran Pistons had a big presence at the third Summer League game. Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson, Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock were among the attendees, sitting courtside to cheer on the Pistons’ young players.