The Detroit Pistons have now won two of their last three games following a 115-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Sekou Doumbouya has arrived. The 19 year old rookie made his fourth career start tonight in Cleveland and made an early case for the dunk of the year, absolutely obliterating Tristan Thompson. The Detroit Pistons appear to have a star blossoming before their eyes.
Doumbouya finished with 15 points on 66 percent shooting, but the real story lies in the performances of Derrick Rose and Andre Drummond. Rose exceeded his minute restriction tonight (logging 31) and made the most of it. The strategy recently has been to start Rose in the second half, and tonight was no exception.
He took over the game for the Pistons to open the third quarter and the offense more or less became Rose coming down with the ball – Detroit completely clears out to one side – and let him drive to the basket. He was automatic, and provided what would eventually be the game sealing bucket in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. He finished with 24 points and 7 assists on 42 percent shooting.
Drummond’s impact in tonight’s game cannot be overstated. Amidst all of the trade rumors, the fact that he was able to block out all of the noise and just go out there and play his game meant everything. He dominated the paint on both sides of the ball, securing 20 rebounds and scoring 23 points on 66 percent shooting.
It took what was admittedly an uncomfortable amount of time for the defense to start clicking. The Cavs scored 67 points in the first half, but Detroit was eventually able to effectively establish control of the paint and close out along the perimeter. Cleveland was held to just 18 points in the fourth quarter, and just over 30 percent shooting.
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Cleveland opened the game making 5 of their first 7 three-point attempts, and Detroit’s inability to defend was hindering their ability to establish a rhythm on either end of the floor. That more or less remained the same until the third quarter began and Rose’s aforementioned heroics came into play.
The Pistons only committed 9 turnovers tonight and forced the Cavs to commit 17. Generally, these figures are flipped and is more often than not a good indicator of why Detroit lost. However, Cleveland’s roster is so young, that they’re frequently suffering from miscues and careless passes. It’s important to also acknowledge that the Pistons defense did tighten up down the stretch.
Detroit has done a remarkable job these last two games capitalizing on their free throws. They made their first 24 attempts against the Lakers the other night (and it was largely what kept them in the game) and tonight they hit on 18 of 21 attempts. What are otherwise some pretty glaring inefficiencies have turned into some promising building blocks – especially in a win.
Although most would admit that the Pistons are currently struggling severely, the same can be said about Cleveland – and then some. That’s lead some people to be even more discouraged about the state of this team given how they fared for a majority of the game. However this team was noticeably exhausted from their previous five games on a six game road trip – with every single game in a different time zone. Effort was lacking in the first half and shots were missing short.
Despite that, they overcame the adversity and came away with a victory.
16 of the Pistons next 20 opponents currently have a sub .500 record, which means that these wins could be coming with more regularity.