When the Detroit Pistons announced their starting lineup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, you knew it was going to be a rough night.
Not only were the Pistons without their leading scorer in Bojan Bogdanovic, they were without their starting front court as Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart sat with assorted bumps and bruises.
That meant the Pistons took on Joel Embiid with a front court of Saddiq Bey, Kevin Knox and Nerlens Noel. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t pretty. Embiid finished with an easy 36 points and 11 rebounds as the 76ers dominated whatever was left of Detroit in a 147-116 loss.
It was the most points allowed by Detroit this season.
I won't bore you with defensive stats or observations. The Pistons didn’t care. They didn’t try. It’s hard to guard Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, so Detroit appeared to just say “nah” and not do it.
And it wasn’t even the defense that buried them in the first place.
For most of the game, Detroit couldn’t buy a bucket. It almost didn’t matter who it was: if they were shooting, they were missing. The only starter who shot 50% or better was Jaden Ivey, who had a quiet 17 points and 4 assists.
Killian Hayes, who dropped 26 points against Philly on Sunday, wasn’t good tonight as he made just 2 of 11 shots. Bey was marginally better, hitting 4 of 14 shots for 17 points while Kevin Knox scored 13 in his first start since 2019.
The best way I can illustrate how bad the offense was in the first half was Noel hit just as many threes (1) as Bey and Knox did, combined. And it was rhythm three, not some chuck at the horn:
BANG! Nerlens Noel FROM DEEP!! #Pistons pic.twitter.com/Cc07XS9rMY— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) January 11, 2023
The bench was the only bright spot, really, and they’re the reason this wasn’t a 50-point loss. Alec Burks, the savvy veteran he is, just went out and did his job yet again. He scored 16 points, much of that coming in a run late in the third that sparked a competitive fourth.
Rodney McGruder, also an adult who plays hard, hit five threes en route to 16 points.
Hamidou Diallo really thrives in messy, chaotic games like this. He had 14 points and 8 rebounds while Cory Joseph, another veteran, almost notched a double-double with 10 points and 8 assists.
The vets, the few who played, frankly, gave a sh*t.
The other guys just didn’t have the same energy.
But again, nobody played defense. Giving up 147 points is a joke. It doesn’t matter if the Pistons were shorthanded, Embiid scored 36 in 26 minutes. Harden had a triple-double — his second straight against Detroit in as many games — in 26 minutes.
I mean, how do you allow somebody to go out and get 16 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes!? That seems impossible.
It’s just another ugly loss, in an ugly season, for an increasingly hard to watch Pistons team. They remain one game behind Houston in the race for Wemby.
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