Cade Cunningham scored 8 of Detroit’s 10 points in overtime, but a Kyle Kuzma three-pointer with less than one second remaining proved to be the difference in the Detroit Pistons’ 119-116 defeat at the hands of the Washington Wizards.
The Pistons coughed up another huge lead to see themselves down double digits late, but unlike the debacle against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit was able to fight its way back and make a game of it.
The Pistons led by as many as 14 points in the first half thanks to a hot-shooting Frank Jackson and being plus-14 at the charity stripe. But there were signs the Pistons were in trouble from the beginning. The free throws were always destined to even out, Bradley Beal started getting it going late in the first half and the Pistons were getting obliterated in the paint by the Wizards.
Sure enough when the second half began former Piston Kentavious Caldwell Pope exploded for 10 points in less than two minutes and suddenly the game was tied at 62. The Pistons couldn’t get anything going on offense in the second half thanks to some truly dreadful bench minutes from Detroit and Wizards center Daniel Gafford effectively shutting down the paint.
By the 6:40 mark in the fourth quarter, a Kuzma turnaround hook shot made it 103-90, and the Pistons had no answers. But they did have a little bit of fight left in them. Dwane Casey went with a backcourt of Cunningham, Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo for the final stretch, and it provided just enough movement and stretch to open up things for Jerami Grant.
Grant scored five points while Diallo and Jackson each hit a 3 to help drive Detroit’s surge. With the Pistons down two and just 2.3 seconds left, Casey drew up, what else, an ISO for Grant against Spencer Dinwiddie. Grant backed down his man and coaxed a foul, hitting both free throws to send the game into overtime.
That is when Cade Cunningham decided to put his foot on the gas. He scored on the previously impenetrable Gafford by forcing the switch, getting the big man out into space and using Gafford’s momentum against him as he rocked him until he leaned just enough so Cunningham could drive by and get past the big man’s outstretched arms.
These finishes from Cade Cunningham. Sheesh. pic.twitter.com/WYU1rmLgM7— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) December 9, 2021
Unfortunately for Detroit, it wasn’t enough. In the final possession, Beal was pressured high but was able to find Gafford on the short roll. The Pistons defenders all got sucked into the paint trying to eliminate a Gafford drive, but that meant Jerami Grant was 20 feet from Kuzma who was parked in the corner. Gafford was able to get a pass off to Spencer Dinwiddie who rotated it back to Kuzma for the wide open look. Game over.
KUZMA IN THE CLUTCH— NBA (@NBA) December 9, 2021
The triple gives the @WashWizards the lead with 0.6 on the clock!
OT on NBA League Pass: https://t.co/V0kkYEEIkG pic.twitter.com/HmuR5ZOiih
The Pistons have now lost 10 in a row and have the worst record in the NBA. This game featured all the fundamental flaws that plague this Pistons roster, and it doesn’t look like anything is going to change any time soon.
Detroit allowed 52 points in the paint and were outrebounded 52-37. Saddiq Bey continues to struggle with his offensive identity, Killian Hayes was limited to 21 minutes because Casey was desperate to inject some offense and the Trey Lyles and Cory Joseph minutes still leave a lot to be desired. Despite one of Detroit’s best offensive showings of the season, it still wasn’t enough.
The Pistons will next get a chance to break their losing streak Friday against the similarly pitiful New Orleans Pelicans.