The Detroit Pistons aren’t good, but they’re a group that doesn’t quit.
We’ve seen it time and time again early this season: the Pistons play hard and compete with good teams only to come up short. The trend continued Monday night, and the team was reminded once again that playing hard on its own isn’t enough to win — especially on the road against a contender like the Milwaukee Bucks.
Giannis Anetokounmpo had his way with the Pistons, scoring 43 points, as the Bucks cruised to a 125-115 win. The loss drops Detroit to a league-worst 1-6 on the year, but the biggest news coming out of the game is the status of rookie Killian Hayes:
Per team, Killian Hayes won't return with a right hip injury. I thought it was a hip from his reaction.— James Edwards III (@JLEdwardsIII) January 5, 2021
The injury came early in the third quarter after Hayes went down getting back on defense. Obviously, non-contact injuries are always scary. We won’t know his status until tomorrow, but hopefully it’s not too serious.
With that, I’d love to provide you with some good news... but there wasn’t much. Detroit hung around all night, routinely drifting into the danger zone before fighting back to cut the Bucks’ lead to 10-or-so points.
The problem: when you allow your opponent to shoot 57% from the field, comebacks are that much harder to complete.
Derrick Rose played well off the bench, mostly in the second half after Hayes’ injury. The veteran scored 24 points and handed out 8 assists, keying Detroit in the fourth quarter as they got to within 115-107 on a Jerami Grant layup with 4:18 to go.
Grant scored 24 points on 10-of-25 shooting, marking the sixth time this season he’s led the team in scoring. It was an impressive second half considering he was saddled with two early fouls — thanks Giannis — and missed 10 of his 13 shots in the first half.
With Grant battling foul trouble early, rookie Saddiq Bey (9 points, 3 rebounds) was tasked with guarding Antetokounmpo. It did not go well as Giannis out-muscled Bey, scoring 30 points in the half — the highest-scoring half of his career.
Wayne Ellington and Sekou Doumbouya were the only other Pistons to score in double figures. Making a spot start for an injured Josh Jackson, Ellington scored 11 points and reminds us that he can probably be had as a shooter off the bench for a team with something to play for in a few months.
Doumbouya scored 13 points, a season best. He didn’t shoot it well, nor did he show much when it was his turn to guard Giannis, but he played 23 minutes and took advantage of Blake Griffin sitting out.
The Pistons hung around because of their 3-point shooting, hitting 17 on the night, and, really, they played well offensively and only turned it over eight times. This was a good enough effort to win most nights.
But not against the Bucks. It wasn’t just Giannis’ big night, either. Khris Middleton had an effortless 19-9-4, Jrue Holiday, who frustrated the hell out of Hayes early, cruised to 15-6-7 while DJ Augustin, Bobby Portis, and Bryn Forbes scored in double-figures off the bench.
Outside of the Hayes injury, I’d say it was another kid-tested, tank-approved effort. Detroit will return to action on Wednesday, in Milwaukee, against these Bucks again.