Pistons' Brandon Jennings smiling again
Auburn Hills — It didn't take long for the Pistons to see they had a different starting point guard Saturday night in their home opener.
Brandon Jennings yo-yo'd the basketball like it was a toy early on, gliding, dancing and smiling, a sight unseen in the first two games of the season when he spent more time on the bench than being entrusted to run the team.
Two step-back jumpers in the face of Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams started it off Saturday, followed by an entertaining ballfake that had Nets forward Kevin Garnett going right, while Jennings went right to the basket for a layup that had The Palace crowd hissing at the play.
"I tried to push the paint, try to get guys easy shots," Jennings sai. "As much as I'm in there, it opens up guys for open shots to knock them down."
Jennings started off making his first four shots from the field while the rest of his teammates couldn't find a rhythm offensively in the Pistons' 102-90 loss to the Nets. He finished with 18 points and nine assists, his part in trying to get the Pistons from their lethargy.
He was in better spirits compared to Thursday night in Minneapolis, where he only played 16 minutes and suggested backup D.J. Augustin should start if the Pistons coaching staff had more confidence in Augustin than himself.
"I thought Brandon was terrific," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said Saturday night. "I thought he kept his energy up the whole game. He played great."
After a long rebound, Jennings found a streaking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with a full court bounce pass that Williams tried to kick in vain, resulting in an uncontested dunk. It was one of the few times the Pistons offense had any type of flow, as they continuously misfired on open shots.
"We got good looks. DJ had a good look coming down the lane," Jennings said. "We moved the ball. We missed a couple layups. We weren't knocking down shots. It happens."
"I just wanted to come out aggressive. Just to show him he can trust me. As long as I'm aggressive, it makes the team better and opens up the floor for everybody else."
Hearing the boos
Garnett received more than his share of boos from the usually kind Palace crowd, stemming from his days as a menacing presence with the Boston Celtics and perhaps even the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I wanted to be aggressive," Garnett said. "I told you, this will not be a repeat of last year and I'm just trying to be assertive. Huge win for us."
The Pistons were seemingly a step slow defensively against a team that doesn't play fast, particularly a figure in Garnett who relies more on guile and smarts than athleticism and speed.
"The fact we're on the road, playing against a well-coached team against guys who are usually aggressive," Garnett said. "We just wanted to come out and get a win. We were hungry for one."
Joe Johnson has hurt the Pistons time and time again, with Saturday being no exception. Too big and too skilled for the Pistons' young swingmen, Kyle Singler and Caldwell-Pope, he kept the Pistons off balance and afraid to double-team because of his unselfishness.
Johnson's 34 points, six assists and eight rebounds could be the stat line of the young NBA season so far.
"My body was feeling good," Johnson said. "I was moving pretty good. I was taking what the defense gave me and I just tried to be on attack early. It was a total team effort when the ball moves like that."