NOTE­BOOK Gal­loway finds role com­ing off the bench

Vet­eran point guard took team-high 15 shots against Rap­tors

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY ROD BEARD The Detroit News rod.beard@de­troit­ twit­­newsRodBeard

Auburn Hills — It was al­most like play­ing Hot Potato. When Langston Gal­loway got the ball, he found a way to get in po­si­tion to get a good shot, with some suc­cess.

In Tues­day’s loss to the Toronto Pac­ers, the Pis­tons guard put up a team-high 15 shots, mak­ing five, in­clud­ing go­ing 2-for-5 from 3-point range. It’s a gunner role that he’s taken on as one of the lead bench scor­ers, a new look off the bench.

Gal­loway signed as a free agent in the sum­mer and was a ver­sa­tile guard whom coach Stan Van Gundy cov­eted — to the tune of three years and $21 mil­lion. Though some ques­tioned the price tag, Van Gundy saw the op­por­tu­nity to cross off two needs with one player, get­ting a third point guard while also im­prov­ing the vet­eran depth at shoot­ing guard.

Last sea­son, Gal­loway hit 39 per­cent on 3-point­ers — an area where the Pis­tons fin­ished 28th in the league — and his ver­sa­til­ity showed in play­ing backup point guard while Reg­gie Jack­son missed the first two games in the pre­sea­son, then step­ping into the shoot­ing role when Avery Bradley missed the next two.

“He’s shoot­ing it a lot, which is good, and he’ll shoot it bet­ter,” Van Gundy said Thurs­day.

“They were all good shots and I liked them. That’s what we want him to do and that’s his great­est strength and what we want.

“It’s nat­u­ral for him. That’s what he does and he has a quick re­lease, doesn’t need a lot of time; he has great range, so we want him to shoot the ball. He can drive and kick and make plays to peo­ple and play both po­si­tions.

At 6-foot-2, Gal­loway doesn’t have ideal size but he makes up for it with dogged de­fense and an affin­ity for cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for oth­ers.

While the back­court is crowded with sev­eral re­serves jock­ey­ing for play­ing time, Gal­loway seems com­fort­able with his role, get­ting the green light to shoot on of­fense — and the free­dom to cre­ate when he’s at the point.

“Coach is just trust­ing in me when­ever I go out there and give en­ergy, whether it’s on the de­fen­sive end or of­fen­sive end. I’m just go­ing out, play­ing my game and hav­ing fun,” Gal­loway said. “The first thing we talked about (when I signed) was hav­ing me as a combo. I’m ex­cited that he has con­fi­dence in me to play ei­ther one; that’s a good sign.”

Gal­loway, 25, posted 8.6 points and 2.2 re­bounds in 55 games with the New Or­leans Pel­i­cans be­fore go­ing to the Sacra­mento Kings in the De­Mar­cus Cousins trade late in the sea­son.

In 19 games with the Kings, he av­er­aged 6 points, 1.5 as­sists and shot 48 per­cent on 3-point­ers — part of what caught Van Gundy’s eye. So far, so good. For Van Gundy, it’s just about find­ing what ev­ery­one does well — and it’s easy to see in Gal­loway’s case.

“We’ve been talk­ing to ev­ery­body about what’s your great­ness — where do you stand out?” Van Gundy said.

“Where he stands out is as a 3point shooter who can shoot a lot of them and make a lot of them. That’s what we want him first and fore­most ready to do.”

Healthy ro­ta­tion

Van Gundy said all of the play­ers, ex­cept Dwight Buy­cks, were able to prac­tice on Thurs­day, which means he could have his full ro­ta­tion healthy and ready to play tonight at Mil­wau­kee.

It’s the fi­nal op­por­tu­nity to tinker with the ro­ta­tion and see how the pieces fit to­gether — es­pe­cially Reg­gie Jack­son and Ish Smith at point guard. Smith has been the Pis­tons’ best player over­all in the pre­sea­son and Jack­son, who is ramp­ing up his bas­ket­ball ac­tiv­ity fol­low­ing a rest dur­ing the sum­mer, is tak­ing more time to get his mojo back.

Af­ter Tues­day’s 22-point loss to the Rap­tors, de­fense was fore­most on his mind, though.

“We had to go back and do some very ba­sic things. It’s good ev­ery once in a while to get drilled like that in the pre­sea­son against a good team,” Van Gundy said.

“It’s good be­cause it made us go back and re-eval­u­ate some things. We made some fairly mi­nor schematic changes that will help us and that’s what we worked on.”

Car­los Oso­rio/As­so­ci­ated Press

Langston Gal­loway signed as a free agent in the sum­mer and was a ver­sa­tile guard whom coach Stan Van Gundy cov­eted.

Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News

Ish Smith is bat­tling for the top point guard spot on the Pis­tons along with Reg­gie Jack­son.

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