How would the Detroit Pistons respond after losing to one of the league’s worst teams by 20 on Wednesday? By taking down the fourth best team in the NBA, of course. The Pistons led by as many as 21 points Saturday night before hanging on for a resilient 114-101 victory over the Houston Rockets.
A 16-2 fourth quarter run by the Rockets cut the Pistons’ lead to four by the midpoint of the quarter, but coach Stan Van Gundy’s bunch quickly responded to thwart any ideas of a Houston comeback. A Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer off a loose ball scramble aided in restoring order, allowing the Pistons to put some distance back between themselves on the Rockets and setting the stage for a comfortable break for the finish line.
“I really like how we responded in the last four minutes,” said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy.
Saturday evening’s matchup also marked the return of former Piston Josh Smith. Coming off the bench for the Rockets after being waived by Detroit in December, Smith finished with 7 points (3-11 shooting), 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
For the Pistons, Caldwell-Pope turned in one of his finest offensive showings of the season, scoring 28 points while hitting 6-11 from deep, including a drifting triple off one foot to close the door on the Rockets in the final seconds.
Meanwhile, Caldwell-Pope’s backcourt mate D.J. Augustin turned in an outstanding performance of his own. In his fourth game since taking over for the injured Brandon Jennings, Augustin stuffed the stat sheet with 27 points ad 12 assists.
The Pistons frontcourt was similarly impressive. Greg Monroe (19 points, 12 rebounds) and Andre Drummond (11 points, 16 rebounds) both feasted on a Houston front line that was without all-star center Dwight Howard.
James Harden led the Rockets with 26 points.
Key Notes & Observations
- The Pistons used just eight players against the Rockets. Jodie Meeks, Anthony Tolliver, and Spencer Dinwiddie were the only three players to make an appearance off the bench.
- Andre Drummond Post Efficiency Update: Drummond connected on a deft lefty hook from the baseline for the Pistons’ first basket of the game. The off-hand hook finish was one of the first we’d seen from Andre this season, particularly from the baseline. Positive step.
- Kyle Singler played an integral role in the Pistons’ hot start, scoring 12 first half points, including an emphatic two-hand dunk in transition.
Next Game: Tuesday, Feb. 3; Miami Heat vs. Detroit Pistons; 7:30 p.m., NBA TV