The Detroit Pistons were looking to start the 2014-15 season off on the right foot and to rid themselves of the memory of a miserable 2013-14 season. A back and forth affair in the thin air in Denver then ensued in which the Nuggets pulled out an 89-79 win.
The teams went back and forth, the Pistons were actually struggling offensively besides Josh Smith. Smith kept the team in the game with his energy and his scoring. Andre Drummond battled foul trouble all night and he eventually fouled out in the 4th quarter with 11 points and nine rebounds. A few observations for me tonight.
1.) D.J. Augustin completely outplayed Brandon Jennings. Jennings looked lethargic and uninterested. Augustin received the majority of the playing time and gave the Pistons a big spark offensively, moving the ball and penetrating to the cup. Augustin finished with 15 points on 5/10 shooting and had six assists while Jennings had only four points on 2/4 shooting, two assists, and four rebounds. It really looked as if Jennings didn’t care and if this continues, Stan Van Gundy won’t hesitate to play Augustin a lot more.
2.) Drummond’s defense is a big weakness for me to see. He’s a great rebounder and he helps in weak side defense, but as a 1-on-1 defender, it’s just poor. Drummond fouling out played a key role in the loss and most of the fouls was on bad defensive position and bad individual defense. That’s the one weakness in this kid’s game that’s holding him back right now. The Nuggets Kenneth Faried took him to school tonight and had 22 points on 8/12 shooting and 17 rebounds.
3.) Smith had 25 points, but on 9/22 shooting. He had a good first half, taking the ball to the rim and he did his work closer to the basket. However, in the second half Smith took a lot of jumpers and all three of his 3-point attempts in the second half, he miss all three 3’s as you could imagine. That can’t happen at all.
4.) The Pistons struggles from deep continued as they shot a paltry 6/26 from deep. Caron Butler‘s Pistons debut produced 0 points on 0/5 shooting and 0/3 from deep. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot a disgusting 3/19 overall and was 1/8 from deep. Van Gundy can’t be happy with Caldwell-Pope shooting 3/19 from the field, it just can’t work like that.
5.) Remember the 4th quarter execution that I keep harping on? Well the Pistons were outscored 24-16 in the 4th and had a stretch where they didn’t score for 2:46 that did them in. The execution was bad as the Pistons were taking shots in the final moments of the shot clock and they were mostly off-balanced 3’s. Drummond fouling out in the 4th didn’t help though.
Detroit got out-rebounded 51-45 and got outscored on the fast break 11-6. I’m going to chalk up tonight to the fact that, it’s a new system with Van Gundy so it’ll take a little to adjust. Also, it’s in Denver. It’s hard to go into the Pepsi Center and get a win against these Nuggets. It’s off to Minnesota to take on the younger Timberwolves.