76ers hand Pistons third straight defeat
Griffin, Drummond combine for 52 points but Detroit squanders 12-point halftime lead
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.
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.
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.
Andre Drummond (21 points, 10 rebounds) scores over the 76ers’ Wilson Chandler.