'A little luck' helps Pistons survive late defensive gaffe

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Pistons' Andre Drummond defends the Nets' Caris LeVert in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's regular-season opener.

Auburn Hills — After his last rebound, Blake Griffin dribbled out the final seconds on the clock in the Pistons’ 103-100 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Instead of smiling and celebrating, Griffin raced over to forward Glenn Robinson III to make a point. On Brooklyn’s final possession, the Nets had a potential tying shot that was off the mark and landed in Griffin’s protective arms.

That wasn’t the defense the Pistons drew up. Robinson played tight defense but conceded the shot, despite the team's plan to foul before the shot to prevent a potential tie. The Pistons got the win, but there was some good fortune involved.

“(What we planned) wasn’t what we did — I’ll just say that,” Griffin said in the postgame on-court interview with Fox Sports Detroit. “Sometimes you need a little luck to win a game and we got it done.”

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After Thursday’s practice, coach Dwane Casey confirmed the gaffe.

“We definitely wanted to foul and didn’t execute that. There were so many situations we did not execute,” Casey said. “We competed and played hard in certain spots and put ourselves in position to win. There were so many things we could do better during the game.”

More than luck, the Pistons had Griffin (26 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Andre Drummond (24 points and 20 rebounds), which was a frontcourt mismatch the Nets couldn’t defend. It’ll be a frontcourt advantage that the Pistons will see many times this season, but the key is finding the mismatch and learning to take advantage.

Down the stretch, the Pistons had a clear plan of what they wanted to do. Though they had touted shooting more 3-pointers during the preseason as their new niche, they went to the tried-and-true options when they needed baskets.

“The matchups were in our favor. If (the Nets) were going to play small, we wanted to pound them inside and make sure we took advantage of Blake and Andre,” Casey said. “They both did a good job of dominating the offensive boards and working the baseline and Blake found (Drummond). We were prepared.

“We did it throughout the game and we saw the matchups we wanted, but we have to do a better job of executing at the ends of games. A lot of that is my fault because of familiarity and what guys can and can’t do in certain situations.”


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard