The Pistons fell, 115-91, to the Orlando Magic on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — It was an inauspicious start to the preseason, an often-sloppy game that looked more like a scrimmage than the first look at the new edition of the Pistons rather than a polished product that’s ready to start the season.
There are still four more preseason games to improve — and there’s plenty more work to do.
The Pistons opened the preseason with a 115-91 loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena.
With 20 turnovers, it wasn’t pretty, but coach Dwane Casey was more concerned with the approach that the result.
“We were slogging through, we had a day and a half off — and we played like it,” Casey said. “We tried to ease into an exhibition game. They had an extra game on us and we had to get loose for two or three minutes and by that time, they were running by us.”
Christian Wood led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds and Andre Drummond added 14 points and nine rebounds. Derrick Rose added 10 points and four assists off the bench.
“Christian Wood was a force inside and played the game the right way,” Casey said. “He played hard and played the right way. He has to continue to do that; consistency is the key word with everybody.”
The Magic (2-0) led, 57-48, at halftime and blew it open with a 31-20 advantage in the fourth quarter.
► Wood is going to make it an interesting preseason discussion to determine the final roster spot. He made an immediate impact, with 12 points and four rebounds in his first seven minutes, finishing with 19 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes.
He provided almost-instant energy and offense off the bench and was a difference-maker on the defensive end as well. By most estimations, the final roster spot will come down to Wood and 18-year veteran Joe Johnson. If that’s the case, keeping Wood off the roster will be tough, from the first indications Monday.
He showed that same production in the G League last season but he could be in line for increased minutes against other teams’ second units to get a better gauge of his value.
Christian Wood had 19 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes against the Magic. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
► Tony Snell is all over the place — in a good way. Snell predictably joined the starting lineup and was a good addition. With his typical good defense, he made a mark by hustling all around the court, but he also was valuable on the offensive end, as he shot 3-of-7 from the field, including 1-of-3 on 3-pointers and was solid on both end of the court in 18 minutes.
Snell will provide some needed defense in the starting group and his wingspan on the perimeter is formidable. He was ready to shoot when the ball came to him and that combination will help.
► The starters didn’t do much. In fairness, Casey said he wasn’t going to push their workload and the Reggie Jackson played 22 minutes, the highest of any of the first group. Casey said he wanted to see more from the young players and the second group, which he did in the second half. Jackson finished 2-of-12 from the field and Blake Griffin was 1-of-4 but had five assists.
The first five was 13-of-36 (36 percent) from the field and just 3-of-12 from 3-point range. It a data point in a five-game preseason and shouldn’t be a long-term concern.
► Some of the other reserves had their moments too. Svi Mykhailiuk started heating up at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, hitting a 3-pointer to end the third, then another to start the fourth, before another jumper to punctuate a personal 8-0 run.
He’s vying with many of the other wings for playing time, potentially with the second group. Casey typically has a rotation of about nine or 10 players, so he likely could fall into that sphere if he has a good remainder of the preseason.
Luke Kennard had six points but never seemed to get into an offensive rhythm in his 20 minutes. In 16 minutes, Thon Maker had six points and four rebounds.
► Rookie Sekou Doumbouya enter for the final 9:27 of the game and his only field goal was a 3-pointer at the 5:31 mark. He finished 1-of-6, including 1-of-4 on 3-pointers. Casey said he wanted to see what the rookie had but with 18 players seeing time Monday, the rotation was very flexible.