Beard: Pistons' Bruce Brown coming to grips with rigors of NBA
Detroit — Bruce Brown had seen and heard enough.
In the second game of the season, Hawks guard Trae Young had his way, flexing and posing throughout his 38-point performance, which included some outlandish shots, with one coming from the Pistons’ logo near halfcourt.
Brown looked forward to the rematch, which came Friday. Brown was ready, playing lockdown defense on Young, holding him to nine points — 17 below his season average — along with eight assists and five turnovers.
There were no faux push-ups or gestures showing up the Pistons guard. Instead, Brown was doing more of the damage, accounting for 14 points, seven assists and four turnovers in the Pistons’ lopsided win.
In fact, Brown was the one with the last laugh, signaling to the Hawks bench that they needed to get a timeout after he hit a big 3-pointer during a Pistons run that helped put the game away.
“Last game, I didn’t do anything; he was just playing off me. I didn’t score or look to score,” Brown said Friday. “Today was going to be different. In every game, I need to make them play honest (defense).
“(It wasn’t) revenge. I was ready tonight; I just wasn’t ready last time.”
After a rough rookie season with 56 starts, Brown is showing signs of rounding his game into form, showing some promise as a third point guard and in the past couple of games, improving his ability to finish at the rim. That’s been one of his biggest problems in the early part of his career: offensive efficiency.
Brown shot 40 percent from the field and a dismal 25.8 percent on 3-pointers. This season, he’s improved marginally from the field, to 41.4 percent, but has jumped 10 percentage points, to 36 percent from beyond the arc.
In 16 games, Brown has shot above 50 percent from the field just twice — and in both games, he hit all of his 3-pointers. What he’s improved on recently is getting to the rim and finishing at the rim in transition, which has given him more confidence and let him ease into his game without having to force up 3-pointers because they were the only open shot.
Also, with more duties in distributing the ball, he’s been able to shy away from bad shots, looking to set up his teammates with better opportunities.
The Monday Drive takes a look at some trends from the past week, in which the Pistons went 1-2:
► Still managing: The Pistons continue to manage the minutes of Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, but there is some loosening of the reins. Rose played limited minutes in Friday’s game against the Hawks and played 26 minutes in the second game of the back-to-back. Griffin didn’t play Saturday, but he’s steadily increasing his playing time, and starting to show much better mobility and rhythm in his game. Griffin had a very encouraging, season-high 24 points against the Hawks.
► Turnovers galore: Turnovers have been a continual problem for the Pistons this season, but the issue was magnified in the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. As was the case in the playoff series last season, the Bucks ravaged on the miscues and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday, is a menace in the open court in transition. The Pistons’ costliest turnovers have been in the open court, which makes it difficult to defend.
► Scheduling notes: After facing the Magic on Monday, the Pistons play at Charlotte on Wednesday, then host the Hornets on Friday. They will have played 18 of their 19 games against the Eastern Conference, with only one matchup against a Western Conference team, a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The schedule gets rougher in December and January, including the tough western trip, with games at the Spurs, Jazz, Clippers, Warriors and Lakers, before finishing up at the Cavs.
► Rookie watch: Sekou Doumbouya had been playing well with the Grand Rapids Drive in the G League, averaging about 18 points per game. That created a fan fervor to have him join the Pistons, which he did for his debut on Saturday against the Bucks, but he played only two minutes and missed his only shot attempt. Jordan Bone, though, had four points in those two minutes. Bone, the second-round pick, has shown some skill at point guard but still must adjust to the speed of the game and defending the pick-and-roll from opposing guards.
Pistons vs. Magic
Tipoff: 7 Monday, Little Caesars Arena
Outlook: The Pistons (5-11) have lost six of their last seven games. The Magic (6-9) have dropped two straight games will be without Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Michael Carter-Williams.