The Detroit Pistons dropped another game to the Charlotte Hornets in heartbreaking fashion at the buzzer. Instead of a Malik Monk buzzer-beating 3-pointer, though, it was a final buzzer that sounded before the Pistons, down one, were able to get a shot off. They dropped the game 102-101, drop to 6-11 on the season and whatever faint playoff hopes remained are dimming fast.
Why was it a one-point game with seconds remaining? Well, stop me if you’ve heard this one before but the Pistons defense was awful. Turnstyles on the perimeter, open lanes toward the basket led to the Hornets scoring 62 points in the paint on the night.
Then there was Derrick Rose, who might have played his worst game in a Pistons uniform. Sloppy turnovers, tunnel vision and an inability to convert at the rim. Rose ended the night with 13 points on 15 shots and only two assists.
But the end of the game is a microcosm of Detroit’s season — inexplicable, unacceptable and, yet, totally predictable.
Here, Rose is too lackadaisical getting into the offense with 7.9 seconds left. He waits until there is just 3 seconds left to drive from the perimeter. With 2 seconds left he has drawn Bismack Biyombo and Andre Drummond is streaking freely to the rim. An alley oop to Drummond, who has a huge catch radius, wins the game. Or, hell, with 1.7 seconds left Rose could have bounce passed it to Dre for an easy layup. Game winner. But nope. Instead, he stops at the elbow, is indecisive but still gets himself up in the air. With no available shot he decides to pass it about 20 feet to Luke Kennard with 0.7 seconds left. Kennard couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.
This isn’t all on Rose, though. Dwane Casey designed the final play to put the ball in Rose’s hands. The same Rose who had been terrible all night. A player who didn’t touch the ball or get involved in the final play whatsoever was the team’s best player Blake Griffin.
That’s on Casey. Not Rose and not Griffin. Casey.
What is on the players, though, was yet another poor defensive performance. Bismack Biyombo has played 600 career NBA games. In just one of them has he scored as many as the 19 points he put up on the Pistons. Rookie PJ Washington added 17, Devonte Graham had 16 and Miles Bridges had 15.
Detroit was led by Griffin, who scored a very quiet 26 points. While he is putting up shots, Griffin has been largely invisible all season in Detroit. The offense is not working through him, he’s not been a noticeably vocal leader and he’s just not engaged. He’s just another guy on the floor letting the game come to him.
It was also a bad night for Luke Kennard who, despite some nice late-game work, took some puzzling shots and had some pretty awful misses. He finished with 16 points.
Drummond scored 14 points, had 21 rebounds and seven assists. But he had four turnovers, including an inexcusable one with 2:15 to play. Drummond, as he loves to do, was pushing the ball up the floor unnecessarily after securing a rebound after a terrible Terry Rozier shot.
Rozier picked his pocket around half court and buried a wide open 3 as defenders scrambled back down the floor. Those were the last points the Hornets scored on the night but it was enough to secure the victory.
The Pistons led 60-55 at the half but gave up a 10-0 run to begin the third quarter and then allowed a 12-2 run to end the quarter. They were outscored in the third 31-20, and scored only 41 points in the second half.
It’s gonna be a long season, folks.