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When it’s winning time Detroit is simply overmatched against Thunder

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Pistons can’t sustain huge comeback, eventually fold against Thunder

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There were a few obvious takeaways from the Detroit Pistons’ latest defeat — 114-107 at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

  1. Christian Wood is getting more expensive by the shot attempt (because the dang things keep going in).
  2. When it’s winning time, the Pistons both don’t know how and don’t have the talent to close the deal.

The two facts stated above made for a fun game and ultimately disappointment if you don’t care about the NBA lottery odds or relief that the team both managed to divert your attention for 2.5 hours and also wound up losing.

Wood, though, as has been the case since the trade of Andre Drummond shined in his expanded role and was really the only thing worth talking about from a Detroit perspective.

With Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown out injured and the teenaged Sekou Doumbouya in NBA Siberia mentally, there aren’t that many young players worth considering.

Wood scored a career-high 29 points and hit five of his six three-point attempts as part of a 12-for-14 shooting night overall. He also had nine rebounds and three assists. Just don’t pay attention to the six turnovers.

There has been a lot of debate about just how much Wood will get in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Whatever his price was two weeks ago it’s significantly higher now. Estimates vary widely from something in the $6 million range to the $12 million range annually.

I’m not sure which of those are right or if everyone is low balling the athletic big man with perimeter range who is still just 24 years old.

What I do know is that Wood’s ascension is all the more reason that the Pistons traded away Drummond in the first place. Because the team doesn’t own Wood’s bird rights, they would be limited in what they could offer if Dre was still on the books. With Andre’s massive $28 million salary for next season now gone the Pistons will have all the money they need if they choose they’d like to retain Wood’s services on a multi-year deal.

Anyway, back to the game. If you’re wondering why the Pistons lost it’s pretty simple — they had zero answers for the Thunder’s explosive backcourt.

Shai Gilgeous Alexander and Dennis Schroeder combined for 50 points on 19-of-29 shooting. That kind of explosive efficiency was just par for the course for OKC against a defensively deficient Detroit team. The Thunder shot 61% overall and 41% from deep.

Chris Paul scored 16 points on 7-of-10 and Danilo Galinari scored 19 on an “inefficient” 7-of-15. Hilariously, he was just one of two Thunder players to shoot less than 50% from the floor.

The Pistons, thanks to Wood and an 18-point, 7-assist night from new starting point guard Brandon Knight (shudder) used a 16-2 run in the second half to somehow claw their way into the lead 103-102 with 4:27 left in the game.

The comeback was powered by 3-pointers from all over the roster. Down 14, the Pistons hit five 3s in four minutes — two from Wood, and one each from Knight, Langston Galloway and Svi Mykhailiuk. Add in a pair of buckets from Tony Snell and the new Piston Jordan McRae and suddenly Detroit was up.

The teams went back and forth and a Knight jumper put Detroit back ahead 107-106 with 1:53 to play. But when winning time hits, Detroit just doesn’t know what to do.

You know who knows what to do? Chris Paul, Danilo Galinari, Steven Adams and Billy Donovan.

The Pistons didn’t mange to score again while the Thunder scored the next eight points. Ballgame. Another Pistons loss.

The defeat leaves Detroit at 20 wins and with the sixth-worst record in the NBA. Minnesota managed to beat Chicago on Wednesday night to give them 19 wins. The Knicks and Hawks also have 19 wins so it’s extremely possible that the Pistons will end with perhaps the third-worst record in the NBA.