The Detroit Pistons have a nasty habit.
They’re terrible in the third quarter. Like, not just bad. Terrible. They blew a big lead against the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week, and the kept the trend going tonight against the Utah Jazz. After trailing by one at half, they were outscored by nine in the third.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they came out in the fourth slow and fell behind by 15 points before falling 126-111 at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s hard to point to one thing that ails the Pistons in those dreaded third quarters. Sometimes, they just don’t bring the same energy. Sometimes, they can’t score. Sometimes, they can’t defend.
Tonight they couldn’t defend — specifically Lauri Markkanen.
The Jazz sharpshooter torched former Jazz sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic, scoring 19 points in the first half en-route to 38 on the night. He hit 9 of 13 from downtown, getting whatever shots he wanted.
Detroit’s defense in general struggled to keep the Jazz off the 3-point line. Normally, it's a strength — hard closeouts forcing guys to take shots in the ugly midrange area. Tonight, it was bombs away from Utah.
The Pistons were outscored by 33 points from downtown, which is insurmountable when you look at the entire game.
But it wasn’t ALL bad!
The rookies looked awesome. Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey had a rare “on” night together as both did some really good things. Duren, battling with giant rookie Walker Kessler, had another double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
His effort and athleticism were a huge strength for the Pistons as he looked like vintage Andre Drummond on the offensive glass at times. But as fun as rebounds are, this is what you came to see:
ARE YOU KIDDING ME @JalenDuren?? #Pistons I @ThinkFordFirst pic.twitter.com/BeTY3j5rYu— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) December 21, 2022
Ivey, too, was awesome.
He scored 30 points on 10/14 shooting, including 18 points in the first half, in the best game of his young career. It wasn’t just jumpers, getting to the line or just attacking the rim tonight as Ivey did a little bit of everything.
It was good to see some restraint in his shot selection, trying not to attack or shoot just for the sake of shooting. He was under control and knew how and where he could attack.
Of course, it always helps when you can do this:
Count that baby and a foul, @IveyJaden!#Pistons I @ThinkFordFirst pic.twitter.com/ojVReYtgy9— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) December 21, 2022
It’s easy to be discouraged by that second half, but seeing these two flourish makes it sting a bit less. Detroit probably isn’t going to come away with a Rookie of the Year this season (they’re waiting for Wemby next) but these two might represent the best draft class in the NBA from 2022.
It was otherwise quiet for the Pistons. Killian Hates shot 2/8 and finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists while Isaiah Stewart missed all five of his triples and finished with 7 points and 3 rebounds.
The bench combined for 40 points, including 10 each from Marvin Bagley and Alec Burks, but it obviously wasn’t nearly enough.
Let us know what you thought in the comments.