The Oklahoma City Thunder came to the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday for the first and only time this season.
The Pistons held on to a slim two-point lead after the first quarter, mostly due to 10 points by Josh Smith. But Kevin Durant and the Thunder charged back, taking an 11-point lead late in the second quarter. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, the Pistons tied the game back up at 56.
It was a game of runs, with one team racing out to a lead, then the other coming right back. A late third quarter run capped off by a Jeremy Lamb three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Thunder an eight-point lead. The Pistons were not able to overcome that deficit and ended up losing 119-110.
Durant led all scorers with 37 points on 9-15 shooting and 17-19 from the charity stripe. Russell Westbrook added 20 points and Serge Ibaka had 11 with nine rebounds. Rookie center Steven Adams looked impressive coming off the bench, scoring 17 and grabbing 10 boards. The Thunder dominated the inside, outscoring the Pistons 50-40 in the paint and also outrebounding the Pistons by 10. The Thunder move to a 4-1 record with the win.
Greg Monroe continued his hot streak, posting another double-double (20 points, 15 rebounds). Smith had perhaps his best game as a Piston, scoring a team-high 25 points and adding eight rebounds. Brandon Jennings seems to be over his injury and looked like the guard we saw in Milwaukee. He scored 22 points and dished out 11 assists. Rodney Stuckey came off the bench and scored 17 points.
Even though the Pistons are a big, physical team, they can also got out in transition with the best of them. They outscored a very athletic OKC in the fast break 25-12.
The Pistons then embarked on their four-game west coast road trip, starting in Portland. The Pistons have historically struggled in the west, going 1-43 in their last 44 road games against the Western Conference. They looked to change their fortune against the hot Trail Blazers.
Damian Lillard’s nine first quarter points helped the Blazers jump out to a four-point lead at the end of one. Midway through the second quarter, the Pistons came back and took a 43-42 lead on a Rodney Stuckey three-pointer. But the Blazers continued their hot shooting and eventually took a three-point lead into halftime. The Blazers controlled the third quarter, never giving up their lead. With 1:28 left in the fourth quarter, the Pistons charged right back, coming within four points after a Jennings layup. But the Pistons failed to score another point, and went on to lose 109-103.
Lillard had a hot hand the whole night, going 5-8 from beyond the arc and scoring 25 points. The frontcourt tandem of Robin Lopez and Lamarcus Aldridge combined for 35 points and 22 rebounds. Their defense, however, was a little suspect. They allowed the Pistons to score 60 points in the paint, compared to just 36 for the Blazers. Portland moves to 5-2 on the year.
Brandon Jennings did all he could to keep the Pistons in the game, scoring 28 points, including 13 in the fourth. Andre Drummond bounced back from an off night against the Thunder, scoring 16 and grabbing 16 rebounds. All of his points came in the paint. Greg Monroe continued his hot streak, scoring 19 points and snagging eight rebounds. Josh Smith scored 11 and Stuckey added 13 points off the bench. The Pistons fall to 2-4 on the season, including three losses in a row.
The Pistons move on to Oakland Tuesday to square off against Golden State at 10:30 pm. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit, and heard on 97.1 the Ticket.
Blake Froling is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.