For the better part of two months, the Detroit Pistons haven’t played like one of the worst teams in the NBA. Heading into Friday night’s home finale against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Pistons boasted a 10-12 record since the NBA All-Star Break in February.
They’ve appeared to have turned a corner.
However, they still boast one of the worst records in the league. And, in this league, to be one of the worst teams you gotta play like it.
The Pistons remembered that against the Bucks.
Detroit scored a league-low eight points in the opening quarter as the defending champs cruised to an easy 131-101 win at Little Caesars Arena.
We’ll start with the good, which was basically one guy: Rodney McGruder.
The veteran guard, dealt away in the rescinded Bol Bol trade, has had some nice moments this season. Tonight was his best. Following a rotten start, he gave them a shot of adrenaline in the second quarter as he scored 14 of his career-best 26 points.
The Pistons scrapped to within 8 points in the quarter, but it was a mirage. They were as bad as the first quarter... and, honestly, I’m not sure they could have looked any worse.
Sure, the Bucks walked away with a 30-8 lead when it was all said and done, but it was the first game in awhile that the Pistons’ effort and energy just wasn’t there. They settled for tough jumpers, they gave up open shot after open shot. It was universally bad.
Killian Hayes threw down a nice baseline jam at the 10:25 mark in the first... and they did not make another field goal until Cade Cunningham’s layup with 1:49 to go.
But the job they did on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first quarter carried throughout the first half. The Bucks MVP has torn the Pistons to pieces over the years, but wasn’t able to get to the rim at will nor make himself at home at the free throw line.
He adjusted in the second quarter — big time. After opening the game missing 4 of his first 5 shots, he came back in the second half and dominated. He hit 8 of 11 in the third and fourth quarters, finishing with a ho-hum 30 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists.
The only standouts for the starters were Cade (14 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) and Saddiq Bey (18 points but 2/12 from 3), but it was nice to see Kelly Olynyk come back and play well off the bench. He scored 17 on 4-of-6 shooting, getting to the line nine (!!) times, while grabbing five boards and four assists.
It was a gross game, but when you’re angling for top lottery odds, you need those. With the loss, the Pistons sit 1.5 games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for third-best odds, depending on what OKC does against a depleted and gutted Lakers team later on.
We’re almost to the finish line — what did y’all think about tonight’s effort? Let us know in the comments.