I was looking forward tonight to seeing good ol’ Chauncey Billups in a Pistons uniform, the way I’ve always thought he was supposed to look. I did not anticipate, though, that he’d be part of a Telltale Statistic: Billups, on the plus/minus scale, was a team-high +13 — but he didn’t score a point in his first 25 minutes, missing five shots, four of them from outside. Still, Detroit has to be better now that he’s back, and if the Thunder seemed to be disposing of them handily — well, you didn’t see how fiercely physical these Pistons can be. (Josh Smith actually drew a technical after fouling out, which is an accomplishment; Billups got called for delay of game, and then got T’d up for not liking the call.) And then Billups and his point guard, Brandon Jennings, put on a nice little shooting display in the waning moments, cutting a 13-point Thunder lead to five, but Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant sank four free throws to put it away, 119-110.
What was fun, though, was that while KD was rolling up another 37-point game, Steven Adams, the de facto reserve center, came up with a double-double, his first ever in the league: 17 points, 10 rebounds. The Big Kiwi, in fact, played 31 minutes, more than Kendrick Perkins, more than anyone else on the team except Durant. And you have to figure that any night the Thunder bench comes up with 42 is a good night indeed.
Josh Smith, before fouling out, had knocked down 25 points; Detroit big man Greg Monroe had a stellar 20-point/15-rebound night. (Monroe played 39 minutes, but he’s one of those guys who’ll play 53 if you’ll let him.) The three-ball, which wasn’t working for the Pistons in the first three quarters, started falling in the fourth, mostly by Jennings (22 points), though Billups got one; they finished 11-31. (OKC was 6-17.) And Rodney Stuckey, playing sixth man, led the Detroit bench with 17.
Radio guy Matt Pinto noted that the Pistons were under .500 for the moment, but could be expected to fight for one of the last playoff spots. Of course, they’re in the East, where .500 is usually the 7-seed; .500 in the West generally means you’re in the lottery.
Sunday night, the Thunder are at home against the Wizards; after that, it’s off to the Left Coast to face the Clippers and the Warriors on successive nights, and then up to Milwaukee. It’s going to be a long week.