Outside of tracking lottery odds, the only real interesting reason to watch the Detroit Pistons the rest of the season is to see the young guys stand out from time to time.
Tonight, Pistons fans got their wish in a 102-99 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
With the loss, Detroit maintains its second-best lottery odds position while dropping to 1.5 games behind the third-worst Minnesota Timberwolves and at least two full games behind fourth place.
The game, however, was in doubt virtually all night.
Despite trailing almost the entire game, the Pistons were within one possession for much of the final two minutes. A Killian Hayes 3-point attempt to send the game to overtime missed long as the buzzer expired as the draft lottery odd gods looked down and blessed Detroit with another close loss.
Detroit got little offensive production from Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart who all shot very poorly from the field on the second night of a back-to-back. With the rookies in the starting lineup struggling, the Pistons turned to an even newer member to keep it close.
Hamidou Diallo scored a career-high 35 points on 14-for-22 shooting while showing off a multitude of ways at putting the ball in the hoop. He found more success finishing at the rim on downhill attacks than he has in some time, and Charlotte had little success preventing Diallo from getting to where he wanted. When the Hornets did fill driving lanes, Diallo looked comfortable pulling the trigger from deep en route to a 4-of-6 shooting from three. That includes this extremely smooth jumper off the dribble:
Tough three-point make by Hamidou Diallo pic.twitter.com/WijX177iN5— Pistons Talk (@Pistons__Talk) May 4, 2021
The Pistons’ second-best scoring option of the night came in the form of a very fun game from Sekou Doumbouya.
The much-maligned second-year forward put up easily his best offensive game of the season in the loss. Doumbouya was both aggressive and patient as situations called for it. He got downhill well off careless close outs, but made better decisions than usual when putting the ball on the floor, leading to a season-high 20 points.
Where Sekou sometimes runs into traffic leaving a low-percentage shot, tonight he was under control on almost every drive and he made a high-percentage of shots at the rim as a result. When he needed to be aggressive, he was, including an encouragingly strong dunk in transition with a defender bearing down on him.
Doumbouya didn’t find himself on the floor to close the game, but that was largely a product of Diallo’s excellent play and the extra shooting provided by Bey and Frank Jackson. But Sekou is looking more and more comfortable on the floor to the point where he was even directing teammates on where to go offensively on a couple occasions.
That sort of improvement in the remainder of the season could be a major factor on who on this roster returns in the fall.