The Detroit Pistons let a 17-point lead with seven minutes remaining dwindle away and completed their collapse in overtime despite scoring the first five points of the extra frame. The final score was 123-115 and a loss that joins the Cleveland double OT defeat as perhaps the most dispiriting of the season.
There were exactly two things about this game that were positive — Jerami Grant continues to play amazing basketball, and Blake Griffin looked like a positive contributor on the offensive end for about 85% of the game’s running time.
Everything else was a straight up hot mess. The rookies barely played, and those that did delivered their worst showings of the year. The big men were absolutely humiliated all night on both ends of the floor. And for as good as Blake looked on offense, the team’s need to hide him on defense created easily exploitable mismatches and led to a career night for Clint Capela and an amazing showing from John Collins.
Add to that the most embarrassing showing in the rebounding department I can remember in ages and the absolute domination of Trae Young in the second half. It was as ugly as a loss gets.
Luckily, I don’t particularly care about losses this season. Every game is judged by how well the young players perform, how good Jerami Grant looks and ensuring a high lottery pick. The Pistons checked two of those boxes tonight while woefully coming up short on the third.
Sekou Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk and Saddiq Bey combined for just 25 minutes on the night. That’s less than the minutes played by veterans Delon Wright (25:29), Derrick Rose (28:30), Mason Plumlee (27:09), Wayne Ellington (33:26), Blake Griffin (39:05) and Jerami Grant (41:11).
Sekou played his customary strong five-minute stint before going back into storage for the night while Saddiq Bey badly missed both free throws and struggled on defense, while Svi at least hit two of his four 3s. The real tragedy was the absolute awful play of Isiah Stewart in almost 16 minutes.
In a game where Detroit was desperate for any signs of life from its big men, Stewart delivered his worst performance of the year. losing rebounds, fumbling passes, making dumb fouls, jumping unnecessarily. It was an ugly showing.
Plumlee, meanwhile, was humiliated throughout the night, getting stuffed on multiple occasions and not rotating fast enough to contain Capela and Collins. He had a minus-16 on the night, and his performance was even worse than that stat indicates.
Blake Griffin, meanwhile, showed some signs of life on offense. He was 4-of-6 early, had half a dozen rebounds, four assists and was hitting some perimeter shots and finding success as a post-up option. Then, he just completely ran out of gas.
He finished the night with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. But throughout the game he played some terrible defense, and it remains a problem for Detroit. In the first half, they tried to put Blake on the wing and left John Collins and Capela to feast on the carcasses of Josh Jackson, Grant and Plumlee.
Capela and Collins had 14 points apiece at the half while Capela added 15 rebounds (10 offensive) for good measure. He finished the night with 27 points and 26 rebounds. Collins ended with 31 and 11.
The Pistons gave up 23 offensive rebounds as a team and 63 rebounds overall. It was the second time this season Detroit has given up at least 60 boards, something Detroit had only done seven times in the previous 20 seasons.
Then there was Trae Young. Young game into the game struggling and was largely invisible. He had just six points on 2-of-11 shooting and 1-of-5 from the line. The second half was a different story.
He started to score some buckets and that led to an extremely friendly whistle from the refs, which he used to gather even more confidence. By the mid-point of the fourth quarter, Young had completely taken over the game.
He scored 29 points in the second half and went to the line 14 times making 12. From the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter, when Atlanta began its comeback, Young had 11 points, five dimes and one ridiculous 30-foot 3-pointer.
In that same span, Pistons not named Jerami Grant combined to shoot 2-of-13 for five points. It was a pitiful, demoralizing loss.
But, hey, the Pistons are still the worst team in the NBA, and Jerami Grant is still fun to watch. So there is that ...