With 4:33 left in the first quarter of the preseason opener against the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey sent in reserves.
A murmur was heard from the home crowd as Derrick Rose stood from the Pistons bench.
By the time public address announcer John Mason finished announcing Rose’s first appearance at Little Caesars Arena, a loud ovation awaited the former NBA MVP.
The scene was evidence that Rose is already a crowd favorite, which is the top takeaway from the otherwise uninspiring performance from the Pistons.
Rose scored 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting in the Pistons’ 115-91 loss Monday night.
Although it was only the preseason, Rose was all business when asked about the crowd response.
“We were losing at the time,” Rose said. “I’m a winner, bro. We lost.
“That’s more on my mind than anything. That and the turnovers. If we would have won, it would have been totally different.”
The Pistons shot 31-for-92 (33.7%) from the field and 10-for-37 from 3-point range (27%) on a night they failed to score more than 25 points in a quarter. The Pistons committed 20 turnovers, which led to 20 points for the Magic (2-0).
Andre Drummond scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but had a team-low plus-minus of -16.
Blake Griffin played 14 minutes in the first half an scored three points, but sat the entire second half. Reggie Jackson was 2-for-12 from the field for five points.
But the sparse crowd was energized by Rose’s presence, greeting him with “MVP!” chants when he attempted foul shots.
He won the MVP award in 2011 when he averaged 25 points per game and 7.7 assists in leading the Bulls to a 62-20 record. They lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
He tore his ACL in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs and missed the following season.
He has struggled with injuries since, never coming close to playing 80 games since his MVP season.
Rose had a resurgent season with the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, he averaged 18 points per game and shot 37% from 3-point range, a career high.
The Pistons plan to bring Rose off the bench to limit wear on his 31-year-old body.
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It’s safe to bet Jackson, Griffin, Drummond and Tony Snell will start the season opener Oct. 23 at Indiana.
Fair analysis would say the fifth spot is open, but the early money is on Bruce Brown, who was the fifth starter last season.
Brown, the second-year guard, scored four points on 2-for-3 shooting Monday.
Brown started 56 games as a rookie – despite shooting 25.8% from 3-point range.
He provides a defensive presence and he can find ways to be effective. He cut to the basket for a dunk off a nice dish from Griffin. And he ran the break for a layup.
But expect Casey to experiment with that fifth spot, with Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway possibly getting opportunities.
Christian Wood, who is fighting for a roster spot, showed potential in leading the Pistons in scoring with 19 points. He added eight rebounds in 19 minutes.
The Pistons claimed Wood off waivers in the summer and he’s under a partially guaranteed deal.
He outplayed Thon Maker. Both are candidates for backup minutes behind Drummond.
“He can score 19 points in his sleep with as long as he is,” Casey said. “I’m more concerned about is he doing the right thing, is he running the floor hard, is he rebounding, is he boxing out – all those fundamentals that we need him to do that will win in a real NBA game.”
The Magic looks solid
The Pistons earned the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, one game behind the No. 7 Orlando Magic.
It’s only the preseason, but Monday’s exhibition offered a good measuring stick against a peer.
Magic forwards Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon dominated, combining for 41 points, 15 rebounds and 5-for-12 shooting from 3-point range.
Rookie gets first taste
First-round pick Sekou Doumbouya saw his first action in the fourth quarter, entering with 9:27 remaining.
He played the rest of the game, nailing a 3-point at the 5:30 mark.
He finished with three points on 1-of-6 shooting, including 1-of-4 on 3s.
“He’s going to a couple of ooh-aah things and then do three or four bad things,” Casey said. “Typical rookie.”
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