When the NBA season started, the Detroit Pistons believed that they would be one of the teams fighting it out in the playoffs. The season is young but things have not turned out as well as they had expected. On Monday, the Houston Rockets defeated the Pistons by a score of 99-96, as reported by ESPN.
Kentavious Caldwell Pope decided to take it upon himself to go toe-to-toe with James Harden. The 23-year-old shooting guard came up big with 26 points. Pope was a threat from the outside, hitting three of the six shots from beyond the three point line. The six-foot-five swing man also was quite aggressive against the Houston Rockets defense, getting to the free-throw line on seven separate occasions.
Andre Drummond was dominant on the boards. The All Star center pulled down 16 rebounds. Drummond also had two steals. Unfortunately, though, he struggled pretty badly with his shot. He only shot 33 percent from the field and only made one of his six free throw attempts. The Detroit Pistons are going to need him to improve on that if they want to get to the NBA Playoffs.
Ish Smith quietly had another good game, dishing out eight assists while hitting two of his three shots from the outside.
Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris combined for 22 points, but that was not enough for the Detroit Pistons to overcome the Houston Rockets. The two starting forwards are supposed to clear the paint for Andre Drummond, but they only managed to hit one of their combined five attempts from the outside.
Jon Leuer continues to provide a spark for the team off the bench. He provided 12 rebounds and eight assists. Leuer is not a known commodity in the NBA, but he is definitely a strong candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Those that watch basketball closely are already aware that James Harden likes to put up big numbers. He seems a bit more rejuvenated under new Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni. Last night, Harden put up 28 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, barely missing out on a triple double. He also got to the free throw line an amazing 19 times.
Clint Capela put up 15 points and 12 rebounds. More games like that and very few people will miss Dwight Howard, who left the team in free agency to sign with his hometown Atlanta Hawks.
Trevor Ariza provided a bit of a spark from the outside, hitting four of the 10 shots that he took beyond the three point line. The veteran small forward also provided six rebounds, three assists and a steal.
When the Houston Rockets signed Ryan Anderson to a massive free agent contract over the summer, they did so with the hope that he could provide the outside shooting needed to keep defenses in the NBA from collapsing on James Harden, who likes to do his damage in the lanes. Anderson missed all three of his outside shots against the Detroit Pistons, so he is going to need to bounce back in the upcoming games.
Eric Gordon was the other big free agent signing from the New Orleans Pelicans this summer. He was given 29 minutes off of the bench by Mike D’Antoni. Unfortunately, though, the scoring guard was unable to come through for the team. Gordon missed all five of the shots that he took.
Sam Dekker was given 25 minutes off the bench, and he came through with a solid game. The former Wisconsin star came through with 12 points and four rebounds.
[Featured Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]