We’ll start off with a note on the Pistons. It’s cliché to discuss a team getting hot at the right time of the cusp of the postseason, but it’s exactly what Dwane Casey’s team is doing. Following a 10-point loss to the Bucks on Jan. 29 the Pistons began a run of 13 wins in their last 16 tries, including Sunday’s 131-108 win over the Bulls.
Since Feb. 1 they have the NBA’s most efficient offense, and their 117.6 rating is only going up after decimating the Bulls defense for 131 points on 54 percent shooting and 19 3-pointers. Blake Griffin is playing like a superstar and has created a near perfect chemistry with Andre Drummond, bucking the small-ball trend as the Pistons revolve around two bigs.
Then they’ve placed excellent 3-point shooters around them, as Reggie Jackson, Wayne Ellington, Langston Galloway and Luke Kennard are all providing shot making that allows Drummond and Griffin to work. The Pistons are going to be a tough out in the postseason.
Kris Dunn’s struggles continue
It’s bordering on broken record territory but Kris Dunn’s struggles are worth mentioning since Zach LaVine was out this afternoon. Dunn actually started the game well, knocking down a top-of-the-key 3-pointer and then stripping Blake Griffin and going coast-to-coast finishing with a dunk. He hit another shot in the first quarter, giving him seven points on 3 of 4 shooting.
He didn’t score the rest of the afternoon, however, and finished with 7 points, 4 assists and 2 steals in just 22 minutes. He also didn’t get to the free throw line, giving him now just nine free throw attempts in his last 14 games totaling 416 minutes. To his credit his 3-point numbers have improved, entering today shooting 7 of 17 over his last six games.
But with LaVine out of the lineup and Ryan Arcidiacono starting alongside him, Dunn had a chance to post a high-usage afternoon, work with Robin Lopez on some of those pick and rolls that have been so successful, and find Markkanen and Porter on drive-and-kicks. Instead it was another ugly performance, and his counterpart Reggie Jackson posted a monster 21-point, 6-assist line in just 25 minutes. The arrow continues to trend down on Dunn.
Wayne Selden breaks out of his slump
Granted, much of it came in garabge time but it was still nice to see Wayne Selden put together a nice shooting afternoon. He had been mired in a long slump, entering today’s game averaging 7.5 points on just 38 percent shooting since Feb. 1.
But against Detroit, Selden was aggressive getting to the basket, with 10 of his 14 attempts coming in the paint. Even better, he made all four of his jump shots which helped him to 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting and a pair of assists. The verdict’s still out on whether Selden can be a key contributor, but games like this show what he’s capable of doing off the bench.
Lauri’s 3-point shot looks better
For everything Lauri Markkanen has done well over the last six weeks, his 3-point shooting has been a bit of a struggle. Since Jan. 30 he’s made just 31.4 percent of his triples and in five March games had made just 29 percent (9 of 31).
While it didn’t do much to change the outcome of the game, it was nice to see Markkanen hit 3 of 7 triples. It was just the second time in eight games he’s been above 40 percent from deep, and before the game got out of hand he and Otto Porter – 17 points, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc – got plenty of shots up, accounting for 19 of the Bulls’ 46 shots in the first half.
It’s a little thing but an important one. As teams begin to defend Markkanen differently after his breakout February, shots will be tougher to come by. It was good to see him put together a nice shooting afternoon.