The Pistons lost their second straight, falling to the Sixers,117-111, on Saturday night. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — If things weren’t tough enough for the Pistons’ starting unit without Blake Griffin, things got a little tougher without point guard Reggie Jackson, who was sidelined because of lower-back tightness.
The Pistons felt the absence at the start of the game, struggling to find a rhythm with Tim Frazier handling the ball. The reserves, led by Luke Kennard and Derrick Rose, made up for the missing scoring punch.
The reserves chipped in 69 points, erasing a nine-point deficit in the first quarter and pushing out to a double-digit lead in the second quarter, on the way to a 117-111 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s the second home loss of the season for the Pistons (1-2), who played their third game in four nights to open the season. They’ll make it four games in six nights when they host the Indiana Pacers — whom they beat on the road in the opener — on Monday.
Rose finished with 31 points, Markieff Morris 17 points and six rebounds, Kennard 16, and Andre Drummond 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Part of the Pistons’ undoing was their own errors: 15 missed free throws and 23 turnovers — which led to 35 Sixers points.
“We got to the free-throw line 36 times and made only 21. That’s a big difference in the game and then our turnovers,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Against a good defensive team, we shoot ourselves in the foot too many times.
“That meant that every time we turned it over, they basically scored with it almost.”
The Sixers (2-0) got 29 points and seven rebounds from Tobias Harris, 23 points and nine rebounds from Al Horford.
In the fourth quarter, the Pistons trimmed the lead to 97-99, on a Rose drive and lay-in with 5:10 remaining. Ben Simmons (13 points, 10 assists and six steals) answered with a basket and Horford added a 3-pointer and a three-point play to push the lead to 10.
Rose hit another basket, but the Pistons couldn’t trim the lead until late. Rose led a 9-1 run in the final two minutes, getting the deficit to 115-111, but the Sixers put it away with two free throws from Mike Scott (17 points, 5-of-7 on 3-pointers).
Without Jackson, the Pistons started Frazier, who chipped in six points and four assists, but had four turnovers. Casey said he’d look at some other options potentially for Jackson if his back tightness persisted into next week, but Rose wouldn’t be a consideration there.
“When you have guys (moving) around, you run up Derrick Rose's minutes (to) count if he starts,” Casey said. “There are a lot of factors that go into it — it’s not who’s the best player to start. There’s a method to the madness.”
The Pistons had a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but the miscues came back to bite them and even with Rose’s superlative game, they couldn’t hold on.
“We had them on the ropes and they were about to give up,” said Langston Galloway, who had nine points off the bench. “We’ve just got to continue to look at this as a game to learn from and we’ve got to be better for the next time we play them.”