Pistons rebound to blast the Heat
Auburn Hills — No one knows the Pistons better than their coach, Stan Van Gundy.
That’s why he wasn’t worried about a comeback following a troubling setback. Shortly after laying an egg in Milwaukee the Pistons returned home to easily lay out the Heat, 104-81, Wednesday night at The Palace.
The Pistons (8-7) are now 5-0 when scoring 100 or more points.
This one was about energy and anger. The Pistons did not like how they played against the Bucks and they went back to their defensive roots to carve out this win. There was very little defense and effort during the second half of a 109-88 loss Sunday night in Milwaukee.
It was one of those games players could not explain except to say they lacked energy and defensive intensity. That wasn’t the case against Miami as Detroit soared to leads as high as 28 points (74-46) in the third quarter after Ersan Ilyasova and Reggie Jackson hit back to back 3-point baskets.
“We had a disappointing loss and none of us were happy about it,” center Andre Drummond said. “Our coach was not happy about it and we had to get back to what we are known for and that is playing defense.”
The Pistons talked about focus and energy during their two days of practices.
The energy returned as the Pistons faithful were treated to sights both old and new.
Andre Drummond (18 points, 20 rebounds) returned to the double-double machine that the rest of the league fears. Point guard Reggie Jackson was energetic and frenetic, finishing with 18 points and seven assists.
“I had a pretty good idea that we would play hard. I had no idea how well we would play,” Van Gundy said.
“I knew how guys felt after the Milwaukee game. If you’ve got a good, competitive group like I think we do, after you got your (butt) kicked, I think you are going to want to come back and change it. Plus I saw the way they worked in practice yesterday and I saw the focus and energy this morning so I knew we were going to come out and play. I just didn’t know we were going to hit 16 threes.”
But here was what the Pistons badly needed. The bench showed a pulse and helped the team win.
Anthony Tolliver (12 points) drained four 3-pointer while point guard Steve Blake pitched in for the injured Spencer Dinwiddie (left knee). But the strangest sight was that of backup center Aron Baynes (six points, five rebounds), who not only dunked but swung from the rim like the Liberty Bell.
It thrilled the crowd and the bench was back for one night.
It also got solid leadership from Blake, who lost his job after losing his mojo. He turned in a solid performance with four assists.
In all, the Pistons reserves produced 35 points and 19 rebounds while the Heat bench produced 27 points and 15 rebounds.
“We were disappointed in the way we performed. We knew we were a better team than we showed in Milwaukee,” Jackson said.
Sometimes it takes two to tangle. Part of the Pistons rise was caused by the Heat’s fall. The visitors shot just 40.5 percent for the game. Credit the Pistons defense, but the Heat missed open shots in the paint.
It was a frustrating night for future Hall of Fame guard Dwyane Wade, who finished with two points and missed nine of 10 shots. Gerald Green led Miami in scoring with 16 points and Hassan Whiteside had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Even though Stanley Johnson did not shoot well, give him a slight edge in the battle between fellow rookie and good buddy Justice Winslow. Johnson finished with seven points and five rebounds but was just 3-for-12 from the floor.
Winslow had three points and eight rebounds but was 1-for-3 from the floor.
... Van Gundy said the longest winning streak he’s been part of was 14 games, which lasted about a month. He thought that was a great run. But the Warriors equaled the NBA record by beginning the season with 15 straight wins.
“When you look at it and see the No. 1 offensive team and the No. 3 defensive team, it is not hard to see,” Van Gundy said. “They play both ends of the floor and they have great depth and all those guys come to do their job.”
... Dinwiddie sat out the game with a knee injury. Blake served as the Pistons' backup point guard. Dinwiddie banged knees during the Milwaukee game. X-rays were negative but he did not respond well to treatment and the Pistons sat him as a precaution.
... It was a rough night for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who went 2-for-15 from the floor and finished with six points. He missed his first 10 shots. One of the misses was a dunk on which he hit the right side of the rim and watched the ball fly away.
... The Pistons and Ticketmaster are eliminating single-game fees on their remaining home games this season, Friday through Monday. The savings are available at Pistons.com. Also some items are 60 percent off at The Palace Locker Room online store at pistonslr.com.