The Detroit Pistons’ preseason schedule took them to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards. As it’s just preseason, let’s visit the three things I highlighted in the preview to this afternoon game.
1.) The shooting guard position
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played fairly well today. He scored 12 points on 5/11 shooting and shot 2/4 from deep in 24 minutes before leaving with an apparent knee injury. He left to the locker room in the 3rd quarter with some help and didn’t put any weight on the left knee. Word is now that it’s a left knee sprain and he will be evaluated tonight when the Pistons return to Detroit. Free agent signee Cartier Martin got some burn and scored 8 points and shot 1/3 from deep in 17 minutes. He didn’t do anything spectacular and Jodie Meeks was out again with the back spasms. The job is still KCP’s to lose, barring injury.
2.) Brandon Jennings‘ play
Jennings was erratic today. His shot selection was questionable, scoring 6 points on just 3/10 shooting, but he had five rebounds and seven assists. He also had three turnovers, he has one turnover in the first two preseason games combined. His counterpart, the Wizards’ John Wall, had 15 points on 5/13 shooting, one rebound, three assists, and three turnovers. So you can make the case that Jennings outplayed Wall. However, through three preseason games Jennings is shooting 9/32 from the floor. That’s good for a 28% shooting percentage. That has to improve. I guess it’s better than D.J. Augustin’s 0/8 performance.
3.) The power forward battle
As I predicted earlier, the Pistons went with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond down low after combinations of Josh Smith and Drummond and Smith and Monroe in the first two games, respectively. Today, Monroe scored 17 and grabbed 10 boards and Drummond had 21 points on perfect 9/9 shooting and and grabbed seven rebounds. Smith came off the bench and had eight points on 4/7 shooting, had four rebounds, dished out five assists, and swatted three shots. So far through three games, the Monroe-Drummond combination looks good offensively, but Smith-Drummond looks better defensively. The Smith-Monroe combination didn’t really look good on either end of the floor.
The Pistons couldn’t close the game out and lost 91-89. Drummond gave the Pistons the lead after he missed the 2nd of two free throws, grabbed the rebound, and made a hook shot while being fouled for an 89-88 lead. Drummond would miss the few throw, he was 3/10 from the line today, and on Washington’s possession Andre Miller found Kevin Seraphin for a dunk with five seconds left and a 90-89 lead. Monroe missed on the other and and the Wizards’ DeJuan Blair hit a free throw and Washington won 91-89.
I don’t like the fact that they gave up a game winning dunk. Preseason or not, that just should not happen at all. You have to tighten up defensively and get the job done. The first step towards becoming a championship team is establishing a defensive identity. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has five more preseason games to get this team ready for the 82 game grind.