Pistons blow double-digit lead in season-opening loss to Rockets, barely use Andre Drummond, still look exciting in process

The Detroit Pistons began last season 0-3 and the season before that 0-5, and with tonight’s 105-96 loss to the Houston Rockets, the Pistons have lost their third straight season opener.

Somehow, this one didn’t seem so bad.

I know Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey are each capable of much more than they delivered tonight. It’s not time to panic about them.

Kyle Singler and Kim English excelled off the bench – which is encouraging for both this season and the future. They play a fun brand of basketball, and first-half Will Bynum did, too. I could watch that for a full season.

Of course, Lawrence Frank barely used Andre Drummond (not that Drummond proved his coach wrong), which put a damper on the loss. But it’s only one game, and we all know what type of potential Drummond has. Eventually, he’ll get more of a chance.

For now, I’m just pleased Singler and English appear ready to join Drummond as part of the Pistons’ group of potentially productive youngsters.

Grades

Jason Maxiell – B-

24 min, 10 pts, 8 reb, 0 ast, 0 stl, 2 blk, 4-7 FG, 0-0 3FG, 2-2 FT

He was active and shot fairly well from mid-range. In other words, exactly what you’d expect from him.

Tayshaun Prince – C-

32 min, 12 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 0 blk, 4-9 FG, 0-1 3FG, 4-4 FT

I really appreciated that he didn’t dominate the ball, but he could have done more aside from scoring. His total of nine shots is misleadingly high, because a few came in transition and couple came late in the shot clock.

Greg Monroe – B

35 min, 14 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl, 0 blk, 7-13 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-3 FT

Not his best game, but Monroe made up for his shortcomings on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he missed too many shots, but passed well. Defensively, his rotations were too slow, but he got three steals.

Brandon Knight – C-

37 min, 15 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 0 blk, 5-15 FG, 1-4 3FG, 4-6 FT

Led the Pistons in scoring, led the Pistons in shots. In all senses, his stat line looks better by volume than it does be efficiency. Knight didn’t do anything terribly, but Detroit won’t win consistently if he plays like this — though, he might impress some casual observers with those numbers.

Rodney Stuckey – D

37 min, 9 pts, 2 reb, 6 ast, 1 stl, 0 blk, 1-10 FG, 0-3 3FG, 7-8 FT

He got to the line well, but he needs to finish better inside. If he doesn’t, he won’t keep getting those foul calls.

Andre Drummond – D+

13 min, 2 pts, 2 reb, 0 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 1-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT

I’m glad the Pistons are looking out for Drummond’s confidence by not starting him, barely playing him and not running anything for him. /sarcasm

That said, Drummond didn’t appear particularly confident or aggressive tonight. Right after he entered the game, Will Bynum found him for a short shot. Otherwise, Drummond faded into the background — which was the big knock on him at Connecticut.

Kyle Singler – B

16 min, 10 pts, 2 reb, 0 ast, 0 stl, 1 blk, 4-5 FG, 2-2 3FG, 0-0 FT

Before this game, I said the book was still out on whether Singler is a good 3-point shooter from NBA distance. Well, I’m not sure we have a definitive answer yet, but we’re getting closer, and it looks good for the Pistons.

Will Bynum – C+

13 min, 9 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 0 blk, 4-6 FG, 1-1 3FG, 0-0 FT

Bynum had all his points, rebounds and assists in the first half, when he provided a major spark. Bynum didn’t do much in the second half, but at least he wasn’t a liability.

Kim English – B

14 min, 8 pts, 0 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 0 blk, 3-6 FG, 2-4 3FG, 0-0 FT

I was a bit surprised English was the first Piston off the bench. Aside from Drummond, English is the Detroit player whose role I’m most interested to see in game two. English provided pesky perimeter defense and strong outside shooting — what we all hoped (and somewhat expected, but how much can you really "expect" from a rookie?).

Austin Daye – F

DNP COACH’S DECISION

In about an hour, it will become official that he receives no contract extension, which would make him a free agent this summer. (Whether he’s restricted or unrestricted would be determined by the Pistons after the season.)

Charlie Villanueva – F

DNP COACH’S DECISION

On opening night, the Pistons typically introduce their entire roster, not just the starters. But the strange order they were announced made it seem like Villanueva was starting. Of course, Villanueva not only didn’t start, he didn’t play. Was this Mason’s trick-or-treat?

Most Valuable Player

In his first game after the Thunder traded him to the Rockets, James Harden (37 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and four steals) put to rest any notion that he can’t be a star. (I wrote more about Harden’s big night at ESPN here.)

X-Factor

Jeremy Lin (12 points, eight assists, four steals and an astounding +23) left the game in the third quarter with foul trouble, causing Houston to struggle. When on the court, his passing, driving and awareness helped the Rockets space the floor incredibly well.

Defining moment

Just before halftime, a fog machine went off at The Palace and steamed up the court. Pistons workers struggled to turn it off, spoiling a bit of the opening-night show. Though the Pistons had a few impressive runs, they never had a way to turn off the Rockets’ potent offense, either.

Tags: Andre Drummond Austin Daye Brandon Knight Charlie Villanueva Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Kim English Kyle Singler Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Will Bynum