Neither the Detroit Pistons nor the San Antonio Spurs bathed themselves in basketball competence, but in the end it was San Antonio that was able to capitalize on more of its opponent’s mistakes and come away with a 121-109 victory.
Both teams managed to play down to their competition, and in practice that meant two of the four worst teams in basketball played like lesser versions of themselves. That should give you an idea of the kind of basketball on display Friday night.
The Pistons turned the ball over 15 times, which fed into some of San Antonio’s runs and allowed them to build a relatively comfortable 10-point cushion throughout the second half.
The defense for Detroit was routinely abysmal, including some shockingly poor contests from big man Jalen Duren. Detroit allowed the Spurs to score 68 points in the paint, 14 more than the Spurs’ season average inside.
It was the kind of night where former Piston Stanley Johnson took three shots off of the Spurs bench, all threes, and connected on every single one of them. Tre Jones led the way for San Antonio with 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Rookie Malakai Branham scored 14 off the Spurs bench.
The Pistons’ lone bright spot seemed to be Killian Hayes. He fed off the chaos on both ends of the floor, generating five steals and seven assists (but also committed five turnovers). Bojan Bogdanovic led the team with 21 points, but needed 20 shots to get there, and it seemed like every reliable scorer was having trouble connecting for Detroit.
Alec Burks was just 3-of-10 and several of his shots were not even close, which I can’t remember ever seeing from him previously this season. Detroit only got 28 points from its bench led by Saddiq Bey’s 10.
The loss means Detroit will once again have the worst winning percentage in the NBA. And for those of who using the league’s halfway point to become official TankWatch die hards, the Bulls, Hornets and Thunder all won while the Lakers are beating the Hawks by 20 as of this writing.
A team I’d keep a tanking eye on is Toronto. Something is not right up north, and it feels like they might address that malaise aggressively.