This recap was going to start with a big high-five for Wayne Ellington. We’ll get to that.
Instead, let’s talk about Delon Wright.
Dwane Casey’s favorite backup point guard has taken over the starting job since Killian Hayes’ hip injury earlier this month. It’s been a nondescript ride in 10 games with Wright putting up 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
Facing off against the 76ers again at home on Monday, Wright had his best game of the year, pouring in 28 points, handing out 9 assists, and grabbing 7 rebounds to lead the last-place Pistons past the Joel Embiid-less Sixers, 119-104.
Wins have come few and far between for the Pistons, now 4-13, but the backcourt of Wright and Ellington won them this game — bet you didn’t think you’d hear that tonight.
Wright was the star, but Ellington’s shooting was a catalyst.
The veteran guard was signed as something of after thought. His recent stint as a starter has felt temporary. We all know he’s a streaky player, he’ll go cold soon enough. That’s probably still the case... but it sure isn’t the case right now.
Ellington scored 20 points and hit 6-of-9 triples, setting a new Pistons record for most 3-pointers made in a five-game stretch with 26.
It’s Wayne’s World. We’re just living in it:
Also: it’s crazy that we’re at this point, but Jerami Grant scored a quiet 25 points in the win. He rebounded from a rough pair of games where he made just 7 of 34 shots. The beauty of his game against Philly was the 10-of-10 showing at the free throw line.
It’s real hard to be a No. 1 scorer in the NBA if you can’t get to the line. It’s good to see that from Grant as teams begin to buckle down on him defensively.
Josh Jackson scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds off the bench before being ejected in the fourth quarter following a definitively grumpy stretch that featured him elbowing Ben Simmons in the face, arguing with inactive Mike Scott before getting the heave after throwing an overly-aggressive bounce pass to an official after a foul.
As for the kids, they all played. Saddiq Bey had a few first half minutes, but didn’t do much. Saben Lee played better than his numbers, and Sekou Doumbouya — coming off a solid game last time out — followed it up with another nice effort.
He hit a pair of triples, played his butt off, and avoided the out-of-control spurts that have hindered him this season. Turns out Casey doesn’t hate him after all.
Isaiah Stewart didn’t really do much, except annoy the living hell of Dwight Howard, which was marvelous:
Playing without star Embiid, the Sixers never looked like the East’s best team.
Detroit jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first quarter and led the rest of the way. Simmons, saddled with foul trouble all night, wasn’t a factor. The Pistons held him to 11 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Tobias Harris, everybody’s favorite former Piston, led Philly with 25 points.
Overall, this was the Pistons’ best performance of the year. They played solid defense, the kids got their time, and they beat the Sixers for just the second time since 2017.
The tank is still rolling along, but it’s nice to beat a good team once in awhile. Every NBA team is going to win games, you can’t lose them all, so at least it’s fun to see the Pistons getting their here-and-there wins against teams that actually matter.