76ers hand Pis­tons third straight de­feat

Grif­fin, Drum­mond com­bine for 52 points but Detroit squan­ders 12-point half­time lead

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

Detroit — The Pis­tons couldn’t af­ford an­other loss, es­pe­cially af­ter be­ing blown out by dou­ble dig­its in the pre­vi­ous two games.

One of their neme­ses, Joel Em­biid, was slated to make a re­turn with the Philadel­phis 76ers, but Fri­day morn­ing coach Brett Brown an­nounced that Em­biid was go­ing to sit out to get rest.

That didn’t mean an easy win for the Pis­tons, with the 76ers’ other two All-Stars, Jimmy But­ler and Ben Sim­mons.

The Pis­tons let a 15-point lead slip away in the sec­ond half and fell to the 76ers, 117-111, on Fri­day night at Lit­tle Cae­sars Arena.

It’s the third straight loss for the Pis­tons (13-10) who have a back-to-back Sun­day at home against the Pel­i­cans and Mon­day at Philadel­phia.

Blake Grif­fin had 31 points, 12 re­bounds and six as­sists and An­dre Drum­mond 21 points and 10 re­bounds but the Pis­tons were lim­ited off the bench, with Stan­ley Johnson out be­cause of a sore left knee and Reg­gie Bul­lock (sprained left an­kle) and Ish Smith (right ad­duc­tor strain) also on the in­jured list.

The 76ers (18-9) trailed, 68-56, at half­time and the Pis­tons had their largest lead af­ter Glenn Robinson III opened the third quar­ter with a 3-pointer. The 76ers an­swered with a 22-5 run to move ahead.

Jimmy But­ler broke out, with 11 of his 38 points dur­ing the run, along with six points by Ben Sim­mons (18 points, 14 re­bounds and six as­sists). The duo com­bined for the last 10 points in the run but

the Pis­tons’ bench had an an­swer.

Zaza Pachuilia made four free throws and But­ler hit two of four in the fi­nal two min­utes of the third quar­ter, but the 76ers Mike Mus­cala (18 points) hit a 3pointer in the fi­nal sec­onds, to trim the Pis­tons’ lead to 90-89 head­ing to the fourth.

The Pis­tons had an­other 6-0 run — all by the bench — in the early part of the fourth quar­ter and pushed the lead to 98-92 on Luke Ken­nard’s lay-in.

The 76ers had an­other big run, ex­tin­guish­ing a 100-95 Pis­tons lead with 13 straight points, with four by each But­ler and J.J. Redick (18 points).

The Pis­tons never re­cov­ered and could only close to within six in the fi­nal min­utes.

Ob­ser­va­tions

The Pis­tons played around their mount­ing in­jury is­sues. In ad­di­tion to Ish Smith (right ad­duc­tor strain), who will miss at least two weeks, and Reg­gie Bul­lock (sprained left an­kle), they got an­other one pre-game. Stan­ley Johnson (sore left knee) was slated to start for Bul­lock but was a late scratch and rookie Bruce Brown started in his place. The ab­sences forced Casey into some un­likely bench ro­ta­tions, but they got a boost early in the fourth quar­ter to ex­tend their lead.

Brown got an­other tough de­fen­sive as­sign­ment. Af­ter last week deal­ing with the War­riors Steph Curry and Thun­der guard Rus­sell West­brook, he drew Six­ers wing Jimmy But­ler on Fri­day. Some of Brown’s ex­tended play­ing time is due to the in­juries in the back­court but coach Dwane Casey has full con­fi­dence in Brown’s abil­ity to adapt on the de­fen­sive end and guard some of the bet­ter back­court play­ers in the league.

Luke Ken­nard found his shoot­ing touch, af­ter tak­ing a cou­ple games to get back into a rhythm. He fin­ished with five points, on 2-of-2 shoot­ing, but looked more in the flow of the game and ready to take open shots when they were avail­able. He helped spur a bench run and played more min­utes.

When he gets back in play­ing shape and his tim­ing is closer to nor­mal, he’ll be an im­por­tant piece of the sec­ond group, es­pe­cially with the Pis­tons’ shaky 3point shoot­ing.

Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News Stephen Dunn/

Isa­iah Livers

Lon Hor­wedel/Spe­cial to Detroit News Paul Sancya/As­so­ci­ated Press

Charles MatthewsZavier Simp­sonJor­dan PooleIg­nas BrazdeikisJon TeskeIsa­iah LiversEli Brooks Fresh­man for­ward played 30 min­utes Bran­don Johns Jr. has to­tal in seven games. Michi­gan fresh­man guard David DeJulius has played 25 min­utes to­tal in seven games.

Blake Grif­fin dunks over Jonah Bolden. Grif­fin fin­ished with 31 points, 12 re­bounds and six as­sists.

Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News

An­dre Drum­mond (21 points, 10 re­bounds) scores over the 76ers’ Wil­son Chan­dler.

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