Turning Point: Did Detroit Pistons Thriller Tuesday Night Begin New Era?
If you were fortunate enough to watch the Detroit Pistons game last night against the Philadelphia 76ers, you witnessed what was easily the most electric and highlight filled game in recent team history. Rarely does an early regular season game in the NBA result in an instant classic. This game was memorable and could be the signs of the beginning of a new era for a Pistons franchise off to a hot 3-0 start including last night's 133-132 overtime victory over the Sixers.
Blake Griffin has career night
Let's start with Blake Griffin, who had a career high 50 points in the contest and also scored the game winning bucket from the free throw line after making a circus lay up and being fouled on a score that tied the game near the end of the extra period. Griffin was superb in every facet of the game besides the high point tally. He brought down 14 rebounds with authority and also brought an infectious energy for his teammates as well as the raucous crowd at LCA. Some questioned the move last season to acquire the all-star, but he clearly has brought confidence and leadership to a team that has been without it since their deep playoff runs in the mid 2000s.
Dummond & Embiid Battle
The battle between Centers Andre Drummond and Joel Embiid was intense throughout the contest, but a shameless Lebron James-esque flop ended up giving Embiid what he thought was a victory by getting Drummond ejected from the game in the late stages of the 4th Quarter. After a Sixers bucket, Embiid was brushed on the face by Drummond incidentally and proceeded to pretend like Drummond tried to gouge his eyes out. Then to take it further, he got off the floor and started chanting "Get him outta here!" to the refs and the crowd. The refs missed the flop and Drummond, who already had tallied a technical foul, was automatically ejected with his second one of the game. It's ok, the Pistons got the last laugh and Embiid might have fooled the refs, but league officials will review the video and likely levy him a big fine for the flop and subsequent behavior.
Blake Griffin scored the first points of overtime with a 3-pointer and then found Ish Smith for another triple. But Philly rallied for off eight of the next 10 points, including a triple try that tied it at 128. Sixer JJ Redick missed a long 2-pointer, then fouled Reggie Jackson with 20.5 seconds left. Jackson made both free throws. Redick then came off a screen and drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing while getting fouled by Jackson. Redick completed the four-point play to give the 76ers a 132-130 lead with 5.6 seconds remaining. Detroit called timeout. Then Blake Griffin completed the most thrilling finish to this instant classic with the layup and free throw with 1.8 seconds left. Embiid missed a three pointer at the buzzer and the Pistons stormed the court to celebrate.
Electric Crowd at Little Caeser's Arena
For a game that had a lot of offense (265 combined points between the teams) there was a lot to be said for the defensive efforts and physical play. It's part of why the crowd at Little Caeser's Arena became more amped and eventually hit a level of excitement that we haven't witnessed in a long time. And then overtime happened and it got to a point where no matter the result, anyone there knew they were witnessing what would be a thriller for the winner and a heartbreaker for the loser. Both teams left it all out there, and again, that is quite rare in regular season NBA basketball, especially this early in the season.
It's only 3 games and there are 79 to go, but should the Detroit Pistons continue at this level of play and make a return to relevance under new head coach Dwayne Casey, I'd bet money that this game is the one fans will point to as the turning point for the franchise.
It's nice to have Deeeeeeeetroit Baaaaaaaasketball starting to get on the basketball map again. Go Pistons!
CHECK OUT SOME OF THE MANY HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE GAME