Detroit — After playing just four minutes in the opener and not playing at all in the second game of the season, Christian Wood was waiting for his big opportunity.
It finally came in the third game, with 19 minutes off the bench — and he contributed 11 points and five rebounds, including a 3-pointer. Wood, who made the final roster on the final day of the preseason, still is learning his way around both ends of the court, but his contributions were noticeable on Saturday.
He went 4-of-6 from the field and both misses were from 3-point range. The big bump in minutes was partially due to Andre Drummond being in foul trouble throughout the game.
“I was able to show that I want to be in the rotation,” Wood said. “I was able to show my versatility — picking-and-popping, putting the ball on the floor, being able to guard Ben Simmons in late-game situations and basically showing that I should be on the floor.”
Wood played both with Drummond and with Thon Maker, showing his versatility to play both big-man positions on the court but whether he continues to garner big minutes will depend on his ability to focus on both ends and to guard his position.
Casey pointed to some mistakes made in guarding the 76ers’ perimeter-oriented big men, which led to open 3-pointers, erasing some of the progress Wood and the Pistons made on the offensive end.
Mike Scott (5-of-6 on 3-pointers) and Al Horford (2-of-7) hurt the Pistons with their versatility to drive the rim or hit from outside.
“They played two bigs and we still got lost. That’s something he’s got to learn on those pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops with Mike Scott,” Casey said. “You get one thing on one end and give it up on the other. He’ll learn; he’s a young kid. They gave us that size and stationary bigs, so that was good for us.”
Casey explained the discussions about Wood following the opener and whether he could have helped in Thursday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks, but after some discussion, they moved toward playing Wood more.
“(The coaches talked about it and we want to get him int here,” Casey said before the game. “That’s one reason we kept him. They were fast and running around and they were small also.”
Derrick Rose’s 31 points Saturday gave him at total of 76 this season, which is the franchise record for a reserve in the first three games of the season. While there will be some clamoring for Rose to start, Casey reiterated that the plan when Rose signed in the summer was to have him as the spark plug off the bench, not to open games.
One permutation could have Rose starting while Griffin and Jackson are injured, but Casey maintains that he will worry more about the finishing group that the starting group.
“When the time is right, the best five will be out there on the court at the same time,” he said.
Langston Galloway is finding a niche with the second group as a spot-up shooter and defender, playing off of Luke Kennard and Derrick Rose as a scoring combination. Galloway had nine points Saturday and improved to 4-of-9 (44 percent) on 3-pointers
“He’s a valuable old blanket. He’s always there when you need him and understands his role; he’s a pro,” Casey said. “He doesn’t get caught up in stuff. He mentors the young guys and does everything as a leader and player on the court.”