The Detroit Pistons went from up 16 to down 17. They went from playing a complete game on both ends of the floor to buckling under the same persistent problems the team has dealt with all year. They went from playing with energy and focus to suffering yet another injury to a major part of their rotation. They went from potentially snapping their six-game losing streak to another L, and it is unclear where that next victory is going to come from. They lost 114-106.
Let’s run down the reasons they lost. All of these will look extremely familiar to anyone who has watched the previous six games of Pistons basketball.
- The Pistons shot poorly from 3 (28%). Check.
- The Pistons committed too many turnovers (18). Check.
- The Pistons fouled too much (Philly was +17 at the charity stripe). Check.
- Cade Cunningham was inefficient from the floor (21 points on 18 shots). Check.
- The Pistons were shorthanded (Everyone missing was still missing, and Jalen Duren left the game after aggravating his previously injured ankle). Check.
It’s the same old story. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. The Pistons have spurts where everything is working, but because the roster is so thin, and the players remaining are largely non-shooters, and non-playmakers, once something starts to go wrong, the wheels seem to fall off completely.
The Pistons surrendered 33 points and 16 rebounds to Joel Embiid, but they were able to limit him to just 8-of-21 from the field. They just couldn’t keep him off the free-throw line. He attempted 19 free throws, including 12 alone in the pivotal third quarter that saw Detroit surrender what was left of its lead and then dig themselves a hole they couldn’t escape. Tyrese Maxey scored 29 points because Detroit was, as is its habit, unable to keep him out of the paint.
By the time Philly took its first lead in the third, Detroit’s once crisp offense was unrecognizable. There was few purposeful passes and next to no ball movement.
The Pistons were led by Killian Hayes, whose strong to perfectly fine offensive performances have been just about the only positive to take during this losing streak. He scored 23 points, added six assists, and made a pair of threes.
Cunningham scored 21 (again, it took 18 shots to get there). His form look a bit flatter than it has previously this season, and he was front-rimming a lot of shots. I’m not sure if he was tired, if he just wasn’t completely locked in, or if something else was going on.
Ausar Thompson stuffed the stat sheet as he typically does, but I’d say this was maybe his worst defensive showing of the young season. He lost his man a few times, and wasn’t as physical as he was in keeping Sixers from driving the lane. He finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Again, it was one of Thompson’s worst games of the season. That’s just how amazing he's been.
The loss is Detrot’s first in In-Season tournament play. Why does that matter? It really doesn’t, because there was no way Detroit was going to be one of the four remaining teams to be in the money.
The Pistons next play Sunday against the similarly struggling Bulls. Somebody’s gotta win. Maybe it’ll be Detroit.