The Detroit Pistons never really had a chance against the Houston Rockets on Saturday with Dwight Howard playing at the level that he was. Howard looked every bit like the best center in the NBA as he finished the night with 35 points, 19 rebounds, five assists, one steal and three blocks while shooting 13-18 from the floor and even 9-14 from the foul line.
The Pistons were down early, but really lost control as the Rockets pushed the lead to 15 points in the third quarter on their way to taking down Detroit by a score of 114-97. Without control, the Pistons were able to give some lesser-used players more run than normal.
One player that saw a fair amount of action was 26-year-old Italian rookie Luigi Datome. Datome, who hadn’t seen the floor in the previous six games for Detroit, played 13 minutes against Houston, putting up a solid nine points, one assist and three rebounds on 4-5 shooting from the floor and knocking down his lone attempt from beyond-the-arc.
In the 13 total games that Datome has appeared in, his numbers aren’t flattering. In a miniscule 6.6 minutes per game, Datome is averaging only 2.5 points and 1.1 rebounds per game while shooting just 30.2 percent from the field and 17.4 percent from three.
However, when you look at games where he’s played at least decent minutes, it’s been a different story. Datome has played more than 10 minutes in five games this season. In those five games, Datome is averaging 6.4 points, 0.4 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game while shooting 13-27 from the floor. That paints a better picture of the offensive spark that Datome can be.
Though there have been numerous reasons why Datome hasn’t been in the rotation this season, whether they are coaching decisions, lingering minor injuries, or lack of experience, it’s something that needs to change—even if it’s just briefly. If I’m the Pistons and I’m trying to vault my team to another level, experimenting by giving Datome more run seems like a good way to possibly give this team a spark.