It was a banner week for the Detroit Pistons compared to the first couple of weeks.
After losing their first eight games, the Pistons won not only their first of the season but their second as well.
It was close but no cigar in the Pistons’ second matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were playing their fourth game in five nights. Russell Westbrook had 33 points and 10 rebounds to help the Thunder come back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder went small in the fourth and the Pistons couldn’t adjust in time.
“They changed up from what they were doing earlier in the game,” Tayshaun Prince said. “They kind of threw us off-guard. First few minutes of the fourth, Westbrook was aggressive as far as trying to create some fouls and now we’ve got to play perfect defense late in the game.
“You foul, that’s the best free-throw shooting team in the league so our backs were against the wall in the fourth as far as things that we were doing.”
The Pistons fell to 0-8 after the loss to the Thunder, the worst start to a season in franchise history.
The deck looked to be stacked against the Pistons heading into Philadelphia as starting shooting guard Rodney Stuckey did not make the trip because of illness. Rookie Kyle Singler started in his place.
The Pistons finally managed to do what they had been trying to do all season. They outscored the 76ers in the paint, 42-28, on the fast break, 17-11, and in rebounds, 57-38, en route to a 94-76 victory.
“We’re disappointed in our start, but it wasn’t like we had any doubt we were going to win a game,” coach Lawrence Frank told reporters in Philadelphia. “When we deserve to win, we’ll win.”
Unfortunately, the Pistons did not deserve to win on Friday, despite holding a late lead against the Orlando Magic at home and despite six Pistons scoring in double figures.
The Magic shot nearly 56 percent in the second half, including 39 points in the fourth.
“If you give up 39 points in a fourth quarter and 110 points in a game, you aren’t going to win,” Frank told reporters after the game. “Our offense did enough to win — you should win a game when you shoot 54 percent and score 106 points, but we didn’t guard anyone.”
The Pistons finally learned to take advantage of a tired team. The Boston Celtics were playing their fourth game in five nights. Unlike they did against the Thunder, the Pistons got a lead and didn’t blow it late.
In the third quarter, the Pistons outscored them 23-14 as the Celtics shot 31.3 percent and had seven turnovers.
“We were dead men walking,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “This is what it felt like. Give Detroit credit, they played extremely hard, but we just had no legs.”
The Pistons will take it. LAST WEEK
Monday, Nov. 12: Oklahoma City Thunder 92, PISTONS 90. The Thunder went on a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter. The Thunder also made 37 of 42 free throws in their comeback victory, helping them overcome 37 percent shooting.
Wednesday, Nov. 14: PISTONS 94, Philadelphia 76ers 76. Starting in place of Stuckey, Singler had 16 points and four rebounds. Greg Monroe was a monster with 19 points and 18 rebounds in the Pistons’ first victory of the season. The Pistons held the 76ers to just 29.8 percent shooting.
Friday, Nov. 16: Orlando Magic 110, PISTONS 106. The Pistons blew a 13-point lead as the Magic scored 39 points in the fourth quarter. J.J. Redick put the dagger in the Pistons’ hearts with the go-ahead three-pointer with 42.8 seconds left.
Sunday, Nov. 18: PISTONS 103, Boston Celtics 83. The Pistons took advantage of a tired Celtics team, scoring 66 points in the second half to record their second win of the season. Monroe continued his double-double ways with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Jason Maxiell: Frank had high praise for Maxiell during the week, even in the losses. Maxiell can spark the Pistons with his energy and rebounding, and even shot 50 percent or better in all four games.
Monroe: In his third season with the Pistons, Monroe has been steady so far. Monroe had two double-doubles in four games and scored in double figures in all four games.
Jonas Jerebko: Jerebko played pretty well last week but seemed to lose his shot this week. He was 1-for-6 and 0-for-3 and then only took three shots against the Magic and Celtics.
Brandon Knight: Knight is struggling to find consistency this season. Some games he’ll shoot poorly, 2-for-13 against the Thunder and 4-for 12 against the Magic, but with 12 assists. Against the Celtics, Knight didn’t shoot much but also only managed one assist. THIS WEEK
Wednesday, Nov. 21: at the Orlando Magic, 7 p.m.: The Magic aren’t great, but they did come to the Palace and win Friday night. It’s the only Eastern Conference victory (1-5) for the Magic. The Magic visit the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.
Friday, Nov. 23: vs. the Toronto Raptors at the Palace, 7:30 p.m.: The Raptors are last in the Atlantic Division but have won two of their last three games. When they visit the Palace, it’ll be their fifth game in seven nights.
Sunday, Nov. 25: at the New York Knicks: Former Pistons assistant Mike Woodson has the Knicks playing well and they started the season 7-1, including a 4-0 record at home. It’ll be a chance to see another former Piston, Rasheed Wallace, who came out of retirement to join the Knicks.