| Detroit Free Press
After the first quarter, Monday’s game against the Miami Heat looked as though the Detroit Pistons had up where they left off on Saturday.
That night, the Pistons picked up their best win of the season, also against the Heat. On Monday, they led Miami by 19 midway through the first quarter and closed the period with a 12-point lead.
Detroit couldn’t maintain it. Behind a strong performance by Bam Adebayo, the Heat defeated the Pistons, 113-107. Adebayo finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 27 points, six assists, four rebounds and a block. It was his 12th consecutive game with at least 20 points. Wayne Ellington scored 24 points, and Derrick Rose finished with 21 points and four assists.
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Wayne Ellington erupts from downtown
It has been two weeks Ellington started his first game of this run with the franchise. Casey decided to reward his reliable vet by inserting him into the starting lineup on Jan. 4, with Josh Jackson out with a sprained ankle. Ellington entered Monday coming off two straight starts.
The 33-year-old guard has been one of the steadiest shooters on the roster. He entered Monday shooting 40.6% overall, the second-best mark of his career, with 10 makes in 19 attempts as a starter. He topped that all Monday, by far.
Ellington made seven of 11 3-pointers, falling one short of a career high, and scored a season-high 24 points. Other than Grant, he was Detroit’s most consistent source of offense in a game that saw the Pistons slump after a hot start.
Pistons have best first quarter of season, but can’t keep it up
Slow starts have been a consistent issue for the Pistons over the last two weeks. They trailed by double-digits after the first quarter in three of their previous five games, and shot 4-for-20 and 6-for-22, respectively, in games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz last week.
Saturday’s blowout in Miami broke that run, as they built a six-point lead after the first period. They followed that with their best first quarter of the season on Monday, scoring a season-high 36 points. Ellington’s 3-pointer at the 4:59 mark gave them a commanding 28-9 lead. The Heat’s slow start was hardly surprising, considering their COVID-19 testing issues earlier in the day that led to the game being delayed five hours.
The hot start was largely powered by Ellington, Grant and Mason Plumlee. Ellington made three of his four attempts from deep in the period, Grant scored 10 points and Plumlee tallied eight points, three rebounds and two assists before the second quarter’s start.
Detroit tailed off, though. Following that 28-9 lead, Miami outscored them 79-52 through the end of the third quarter. The Pistons shot 15-for-23 overall and 5-for-10 from behind the 3-point line in the first quarter. Through the rest of the game, they shot 23-for-59 and 8-for-27, respectively.
Josh Jackson re-finding his rhythm
Jackson was arguably Detroit’s second-best player through the first eight games of the season. A sprained ankle then cost him two games, and his shooting slumped during his next two outings. He entered Monday shooting 9-for-36 in his previous four games.
Monday looked like a return to his early season form for him. He found some momentum in the second quarter, scoring nine points on 4-for-7 shooting. Jackson’s first made bucket was a confident drive to the rim, gliding past Miami’s defense; he later hit a triple and transition layup on consecutive possessions to extend Detroit’s lead to 11. He finished the night with 12 points, hitting five of his 11 attempts.