Philadelphia — Stanley Johnson got a pair of open looks for corner 3-pointers. Two misses.
Reggie Jackson had a rushed 3-pointer after the Pistons closed within five in the closing minutes of the game. Off the mark.
Shooting is becoming a struggle for the Pistons, who fell, 109-99, on Saturday afternoon, for their fourth straight loss. The Pistons shot 40 percent for the game, buoyed by a 52-percent effort in a furious fourth quarter, when the whittled the lead to within two possessions.
They only went 1-of-6 on 3-pointers and couldn’t get them to fall when they needed them to try to get closer. It’s becoming an all-too-familiar pattern, with the Pistons struggling at 30 percent on 3-pointers — a key piece on which their offense is predicated.
Blake Griffin (two) was the only player to hit multiple 3-pointers for the Pistons (4-4) and Johnson and Jackson combined to go 1-of-11. What makes matters worse is that the Pistons are without two of the best 3-point-shooting guards, with Luke Kennard (shoulder sprain) and Reggie Bullock (ankle sprain) didn’t play.
“We just have to trust it; we have guys capable of hitting shots and we haven’t had a game where we’ve all shot the ball well or really even decently yet,” Griffin said. “We have guys capable of shooting. Reggie Bullock and Luke being out hurts, but we have guys who are more than capable … It’ll come around.”
Coach Dwane Casey said it could mean some adjustments in the game plans, to create better opportunities inside and take the pressure off the outside shooters, such as Langston Galloway, Glenn Robinson III and Jose Calderon
“We’ll do different actions and take advantage of different skill sets and probably not rely as much on the 3 as we’d like,” Casey said before the game. “It does limit you a little bit. You still do have Langston and Glenn who are ready to come in and do some things.”
Ish Smith had been hitting at 46 percent on 3-pointers but he evened out, going 1-of-6 Saturday. While Griffin, who had 38 points, is drawing extra attention with double-teams, it opens looks around the perimeter, but the shots simply aren’t falling.
Rolling and trolling
Joel Embiid got things going in the first half, with 32 of his 39 points and had another superlative game against Andre Drummond. After the game, Embiid went to social media to rub in the win.
"I own a lot of real estate in (Drummond's) head and I'm on my way to build more," Embiid wrote on Twitter.
It’s a reprise of Embiid’s comments after the matchup two weeks ago, when he got the better of Drummond. They’ve had some words for each other after their past few meetings, but Embiid is upping the ante.
Embiid did have a decided advantage, getting to the free-throw line 23 times (and making 18) and keeping the Pistons’ big men in foul trouble for most of the game.
“It’s a fun matchup. I feel like I dominate every game, especially against them. More importantly, we got the win,” Embiid said. “Last time, we didn’t. We came out today and we punched them in the mouth, we had a big lead.”
The officials called 63 fouls and the teams combined for 92 free throws, which affected the pace and flow of the game. The Pistons said they found it harder to defend when there were some touch fouls on one end, then harder fouls later in the game.
Embiid, especially, got some favorable calls, which made him even more difficult to guard.
“I don’t even understand how the game was called in 1H. it’s hard to get used to because there were so many whistles — both ways — that it’s hard to get a feel as a player or coach what’s going on and what’s actually happening,” Casey said. “It’s very difficult to see the things that were being called and not called.”
Drummond, who drew two early fouls in the first quarter, struggled, as did Zaza Pachulia, who played better against Embiid.
“It’s almost like you have to play with your hands behind your back. You can’t really touch anybody,” Drummond said. “That’s the way they’re calling the game now, so I have to figure a way to adjust to try to stay in the game. It’s hard to play like that.”