Blake Griffin shines in his Pistons debut against Memphis
DETROIT — Blake Griffin had 24 points and 10 rebounds in his debut for Detroit, and the Pistons edged the Memphis Grizzlies 104-102 on Thursday night.
Griffin was impressive throughout his first game for the Pistons since they traded for him earlier this week. His teammates looked uncertain at times, but Detroit was able to outlast a Memphis team that is without Tyreke Evans and Mike Conley.
Anthony Tolliver’s 3-pointer with under two minutes remaining gave Detroit a 101-100 lead, and the score stayed that way until the final seconds. Marc Gasol attempted to drive on Griffin but missed his shot, and a wild scramble led to a jump ball between Tolliver and Dillon Brooks with 10.4 seconds left.
The Pistons controlled that tip, with Reggie Bullock running the ball down in the corner. Tolliver gave Detroit a three-point lead with a pair of free throws, and then purposely fouled Wayne Selden with 2.6 seconds remaining. Selden made the first free throw and the second went in even though he was trying to miss and give his team a chance at an offensive rebound.
A free throw by Bullock closed out the scoring.
Griffin was the first Detroit starter announced before the game and received a big hand from the crowd. The arena still didn’t appear full — the Pistons have struggled with attendance for several years — but the atmosphere was lively, especially during the tight finish.
Griffin’s first points came when he powered to the basket and made a shot off the glass. He lobbed a nice alley-oop to All-Star Andre Drummond in the second quarter, although that duo didn’t look totally in rhythm together. Drummond had 14 points and 15 rebounds but sat out some of the crucial possessions late.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game that only two of his seven assistant coaches would be on the bench with him. Tim Hardaway had a funeral to attend, and four others were sick.
“If anybody wants to sit on the bench with me tonight, we have plenty of room,” Van Gundy said. “That flu is no joke.”
Grizzlies: Gasol had 19 points and 14 rebounds. ... Memphis is 3-8 on the second night of back-to-backs.
Pistons: Detroit went 27 of 37 on free throws, a significant advantage even though the Grizzlies made all 14 of theirs.
Grizzlies: Visit the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
Pistons: Host the Miami Heat on Saturday night in the third game of a six-game homestand.