So, turns out those good vibes from the win over the Toronto Raptors this week were short-lived?
For a half, the Detroit Pistons looked like a team capable of beating the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. However, a 36-point quarter by Portland out of the half put the Pistons in a hole that they couldn’t dig themselves out of as they fell, 124-101.
It wasn’t all bad, despite the lackluster second half and the crooked final.
Jerami Grant, in the midst of a month-long slump, responded nicely with 30 points (on a much-needed 10-of-19 showing from the field) and 4 assists. He scored 17 of those points in the first half and was the the only Pistons player to attempt more than 10 shots as Detroit led 52-50 at the break.
The second half belonged to Portland, but Grant did do this in the fourth quarter:
Hamidou Diallo was the other bright spot for Detroit. Coming off an impressive double-double against the Raptors, Troy Weaver’s big in-season acquisition was again impressive against Portland with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists on 7-of-8 shooting, including a pair of triples on three attempts.
Diallo is just so strong and determined going to the rim. I’m not sure the Pistons have had an off-guard this good at getting to the rim in a long time... maybe since Rip Hamilton? Rodney Stuckey could get to the cup, but he couldn’t really finish—it feels like Hami finishes every time he gets there.
Mason Plumlee and Cory Joseph were the other positives. Plumlee, playing one of his former teams, was good around the basket with 18 points while Joseph had 11 points and 9 assists off the bench. I know Joseph has a weird non-guaranteed contract situation this offseason—that’s why Detroit got him in the first place—but you can do FAR worse at that backup spot than a vet like him.
He just handles his business and is a solid guy to have around, it seems.
The rest of the squad... not great, man.
Saddiq Bey was a non-factor, missing all 8 shots. I’ve said this before: his big games feel BIG. His bad games are REALLY bad. There’s really no middle-ground with him, which isn’t unusual for a young player, but you want more consistency out of him. Speaking of youngins and consistency, Isaiah Stewart is just steady as they come, isn’t he?
He’s really living up to the Beef Stew nickname in a number of ways, but here’s another: beef stew, literally, is that easy lunch you bring to work. You make way too much of it the night before because you know what you’re getting. It gets the job done for awhile.
That’s what Stewart’s game is.
Sure, it’s not eye popping to see 6 points and 4 rebounds, but he’s looking better as a roller off screens and this 3-point shooting, he was 2 of 4 tonight, is a great sign for the future.
Portland went out and shot 51/53/92 from the field as a team, which was a reality check for the suddenly stout Pistons. Damian Lillard, who has struggled in the past against Detroit, dropped an easy 33 points and 10 assists while CJ McCollum looked like his pre-injury self with 24 points.
It’s just one of those games that felt like it was going to be a loss. Portland came in on a roll, about to sweep its east coast road trip. The Pistons look good on nights when the kids look good. Tonight wasn’t that.
On the bright side, Killian Hayes could return in the next week or so, assuming all went well with his three week ramp up period. That’ll breathe some life into the team and, even if he doesn’t “help” them much, it gives fans a new reason to tune in—much like Diallo has.
Say what you will about this team’s ability on the court, and it’s ability to tank, but it keeps giving us a reason to watch. That’s all you can ask for right now.