Griffin notches a double-double in first game since being traded
There's no denying the fact that we were caught by surprise when the Los Angeles Clippers sent three players which included Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for three role players and a pair of future draft picks which could help the Clippers in their rebuilding process. As exciting as Detroit fans are, some pundits expressed their worries that this deal could be a trap for the Pistons as one of the primary concerns surround Griffin is his inability to stay away from injury which hampered his growth as a player.
A game after surprising the still-struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, the Detroit Pistons went on a big 3rd quarter run and then held on in the 4th quarter as Detroit won over the Memphis Grizzlies, 104-02 on the night Blake Griffin made his debut for his new team which was highlighted by the fact that he forgot to wear his jersey again by the start of the second half.
Despite the fact that the Pistons had little time to prepare against Memphis with Griffin now on board, Detroit managed to climb out victorious against the Grizzlies who played without Tyreke Evans and Mike Conley. So what happened? Below are the numbers:
Griffin's Impressive Stats
Sure, he may not be able to stay healthy like he did in the previous years but don't count a healthy AND playing Blake Griffin out. In his first game as a Piston, he played for 35 minutes as a starter and led the team in scoring with 24 points on 6 for 12 shooting. He nailed a three-pointer and went 11 for 13 from the free throw line. He added 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks for an all-around performance. Not bad for a debut, right?
Defense Won the Game for Detroit
In a game where both squads shot under 50% from the field, Detroit won it with great defense, especially against Marc Gasol. Gasol scored 19 points but went 6 for 21 from the field including 1 for 5 from downtown. As a team, Memphis only made 41% of their attempts and went far worse from the three-point line at 25%. Detroit also forced the Grizzlies into committing 12 turnovers which the Pistons converted into 11 points on the other end.
More Free Throws. Higher Chances of Winning
Regardless how big your lead or the deficit that you are facing, free throws are still important. In this game, Memphis may have a solid performance from the free throw line, making all of their 14 attempts from the line but it was Detroit who was the more aggressive team in terms of attacking the defense, getting fouls from Memphis defenders and going to the free throw line. In the end, Detroit's 27 for 37 free throw shooting had helped them win the game, especially during the dying seconds.
The Pistons are now on a 2-game winning streak. Will this mean that Detroit is a better team with Blake Griffin on board? Nope. They're a still a work in progress but give them time, they might be able to make a surprise appearance in the playoffs. After all, they are just one game behind the 8th-seeded Philadephia 76sers in the Eastern Conference.