In the absence of rings

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have predicted this, but it happened just the same: the Detroit Pistons, who had won five straight overall and six straight in Motown, did a collective faceplant in the presence of the Oklahoma City Thunder, falling 110-83. (The oddsmakers apparently favored OKC, but by two points, not by twenty-seven.) Then again, when your leading scorer is also your worst performer in plus-minus — Blake Griffin, 20 points, minus 25 — something unexpected clearly is going on.

The blow-by began early, with OKC taking a 26-17 lead in the first quarter; it didn’t help the Pistons that they lost starting shooting guard Reggie Bullock to an ankle sprain just three minutes in. The other guard named Reggie — that would be Jackson — was held to 10 points. And Andre Drummond picked up 13 points, which is believable, and retrieved only six rebounds, which isn’t.

Thunder scoring involved the usual suspects, albeit in an unusual bunch. Steven Adams topped them all at 21; Russell Westbrook, 18; Paul George, 17 (with 10 boards); Jerami Grant, 15; Dennis Schöder and Nerlens Noel, 12 each. Terrance Ferguson was back, and he still plays better defense than offense, but at least he was back. Hamidou Diallo? Perhaps not 100 percent yet; he was listed as active, but drew a DNP-CD.

The Eastern Safari continues Wednesday in Brooklyn; the Nets fell to Cleveland tonight and have now dropped six straight. Meanwhile in Chicago, the next stop (Friday):

When the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune says something is “not the greatest,” you can safely assume it sucked. Of course, it would have been easier on Hoiberg if they’d given him some players to work with.

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