Greg Monroe Shines in Pistons Opener vs. Wizards

The regular season started off with a bang for the Detroit Pistons, as they beat the Washington Wizards in the Palace of Auburn Hills, 113-102.  The Pistons started off a little slow, but that should be expected as they are still trying to work on their team chemistry after the moves Joe Dumars made this off-season.

The star of the game was big man Greg Monroe.  The 6’11 power forward played 41 minutes, collecting 24 points and 16 rebounds (5 offensive).  Monroe was forced to play more due to second-year pro Andre Drummond getting in foul trouble. Despite that, Drummond also had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Another bright spot came in the second quarter, when rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came in and made two consecutive floaters.  Caldwell-Pope was forced to come in and play 27 minutes off the bench, as he was called upon to fill in for Jennings and Stuckey.  The Pistons outscored the Wizards that quarter by 9, taking a 55-43 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Chauncey Billups came back for his first home regular season game since 2008 and  “Mr. Big Shot” came back with a bang, scoring 16 points (10 in the fourth quarter) and adding five assists in 31 minutes of play.

The final dagger for the Wizards came when Josh Smith made a three pointer with five minutes remaining in the game, giving the Pistons a 103-89 lead.  Smith had a stellar debut as he played 40 minutes, scored 19 points, had five assists, and five rebounds.

It was an impressive start to the Pistons season, but that does not mean the team has nothing to improve on.  Will Bynum and Caldwell-Pope finished the game with four fouls, but the bigger concern is that Smith and Drummond finished the game with five.  Those two big men are expected to play a huge role in the team’s success this season, so they need to make sure they are able to stay on the court as much as possible.

The combination of Bynum and Billups was difficult for Washington to stop.  The two were handed the task of filling in for Brandon Jennings (broken jaw) and Rodney Stuckey (broken thumb) and played tremendously.  The two guards combined for 35 points, 10 assists, and three steals. Cheeks said he could always count on Billups’ veteran leadership, but I don’t think he had quite these expectations for these two guards.  Stuckey could play as early as Friday, and Jennings should be back within the next two weeks.  If those two can produce on a similar level as Billups and Bynum, the Pistons will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.

Detroit will travel to Memphis tomorrow to play the Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum on Friday.  The Grizzlies also played their first game of the regular season in a Western Conference Finals rematch against the Spurs in San Antonio, losing  101-94.

The game will begin at 8:00 p.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit.

Cameron Billes is the host of Horsepower for Impact Sports.