Pis­tons down Cava­liers to fin­ish pre­sea­son

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY ROD BEARD The De­troit News

East Lans­ing — The Pis­tons were the road team in a game in Michi­gan.

But they seemed to be right at home from be­yond the arc and flashed some of what coach Dwane Casey has been preach­ing all pre­sea­son about how the of­fense will work.

It started with Blake Grif­fin and quickly spread, as the Pis­tons cruised to a 129-110 vic­tory over the Cleve­land Cava­liers at Bres­lin Cen­ter on Fri­day night.

The Pis­tons fin­ished the pre­sea­son 2-3, with a de­ci­sive win ahead of Wed­nes­day’s reg­u­lar-sea­son opener.

Grif­fin fin­ished with 29 points and five as­sists and An­dre Drum­mond 21 points and 15 re­bounds for the Pis­tons, who had 69 points in the first half. The Pis­tons led, 86-76 in the third quar­ter but the Cavs had an 11-2 spurt to pull within one.

Langston Gal­loway (15 points) ended the run with a 3-pointer and 22 sec­onds later added a four-point play with an­other 3pointer. Ish Smith (16 points and nine as­sists) fin­ished the quar­ter with a cross­over and jumper for a 97-91 lead head­ing into the fourth.

That started a 14-0 run over the first four min­utes of the pe­riod and the Pis­tons pulled away from there.

Here are some ob­ser­va­tions from the Pis­tons’ vic­tory over the Cavs:

Threes are fall­ing

The Pis­tons had strug­gled from be­yond the 3point arc for most of the pre­sea­son, with some odd shot se­lec­tion and some looks that just didn’t fall. They turned things around Fri­day, go­ing 10-of-18 (56 per­cent) in the first half, with two each from Grif­fin, Reg­gie Jackson, Smith and Luke Ken­nard.

Be­yond the makes, they set up bet­ter looks by mov­ing the ball around and cre­at­ing the prime op­por­tu­ni­ties. The 35 points in the first quar­ter and 69 points at half­time were due to their im­proved looks on of­fense and free-flow­ing of­fense, with Grif­fin get­ting go­ing early and stay­ing hot.

The shoot­ing touch spread in the third quar­ter, as Gal­loway hit a 3-pointer with 48.1 sec­onds left, then an­other for a four-point play. Smith found Jackson for a 3-pointer to start the fourth, which fu­eled the 14-0 run bridg­ing the third and fourth pe­ri­ods.

The Pis­tons fin­ished at 48 per­cent from 3-point range (21of-45), eas­ily their best show­ing of the pre­sea­son.

Blake in­side

While many fans will con­tinue to ques­tion and sneer at Grif­fin’s con­tract, he showed Fri­day why he’s so valu­able to the Pis­tons — with his ver­sa­til­ity. Grif­fin han­dled the ball on the perime­ter and fa­cil­i­tated, but started the game us­ing his size and mus­cle, get­ting in the paint for an easy layup over the Cava­liers’ Sam Dekker. For many power for­wards, Grif­fin is go­ing to be a se­vere mis­match, as was the case against Cleve­land.

Grif­fin fin­ished an ef­fi­cient 11-of-17 from the field and was 3of-4 on 3-pointers.

Old Reg­gie, new Reg­gie

Af­ter an in­jury scare in Wed­nes­day’s game, Jackson re­turned with some pep in his step.

Jackson got off to a good start, with a pair of 3-pointers and a nifty lob to Drum­mond for an al­ley-oop in the first quar­ter.

Jackson played 14 min­utes in the first half, on his way to 25 min­utes for the game, a nice in­crease in min­utes to try to get Jackson pre­pared for the start of the sea­son this week.

It’s the type of burst that the Pis­tons were look­ing for from Jackson, but they’ll also be look­ing for con­sis­tency into the sec­ond half. He hasn’t played more than 30 min­utes in a game in the pre­sea­son so the next step in his pro­gres­sion will be in­creased min­utes.

Aside from the groin is­sues, which seem to be not be af­fect­ing Jackson, he’s looked about as good as they could have ex­pected in the pre­sea­son.

Dif­fer­ent Ish

Smith had a stand­out per­for­mance, 4-of-6 from 3-point range and con­trol­ling the pace with the ball and dis­tribut­ing well.

He’s not known for his 3point shoot­ing but he’s worked all off­sea­son on im­prov­ing it and it’s start­ing to show. He had the sec­ond unit rolling at a fast pace and his own abil­ity to hit helped push the oth­ers.

Starters to­gether

De­spite his toe is­sues, Stan­ley John­son was able to start and the start­ing group played well to­gether, which is a good harbinger for the reg­u­lar sea­son. It’s likely go­ing to be Jackson, Reg­gie Bul­lock, John­son, Grif­fin and Drum­mond who end up start­ing, but it’s also a good bench.

Car­los Oso­rio/Associated Press

Pis­tons cen­ter An­dre Drum­mond, right, is fouled by Cava­liers for­ward Channing Frye on Fri­day in East Lans­ing.

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