The Detroit Pistons couldn’t eecute down the stretch and fell to the Atlanta Hawks 126-120. The Pistons didn’t have any answers for Dejounte Murray, who got a featured role with Trae Young out. Murray was able to create space for smooth jumpers, and when Detroit defenders decided to crowd him, he knifed through the defense for a shot at the rim. he finished with a game-high 32 points and added nine assists and three steals.
Saddiq Bey started slow, but got hot in the second half when Atlanta was desperate for some additional offense outside of Murray. He finished with 19 points, including 17 in the second half.
Detroit had plenty of superlatives in this game, headlined by the continued dominance of Ausar Thompson. The stupendous wing had 21 points and shot 9-of-12, and added eight reboudns, five assists, three steals, two blocks, and one poster on Clint Capela.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what you call a POSTER pic.twitter.com/DvkNUbwckP— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) November 15, 2023
But when the team needed to execute late, they started turning the ball over. And in the game’s final moments the offense became disjointed, the communication became sparse, and the decision-making became poor.
The Pistons were able to take a late lead 117-116 on a running dunk from Kevin Knox off a nice feed from Cade Cunningham. It looked like Detroit’s eight-game losing streak might come to an end.
An easy DeAndre Hunter jumper put the Hawks back up. The Pistons then settled too easily for a tough Cade pull-up jumper with little player movement and no ball movement. That led to an easy Capela dunk and a 3-point lead for the Hawks.
Monty Williams called a timeout and the ensuing possession was a series of blunders once it was clear Atlanta was selling out to take Cade out of the play. Nobody made any decisive moves, there was a cluster of Pistons huddled on the strong side of the floor, and eventually Knox forced a late 3 as the shot clock wound down that turned into an air ball. Detroit was still down just one posession, but veteran Alec Burks mistakingly fouled intentionally with Atlanta in the bonus. Murray sunk both free-throws and the game was over.
It’s that kind of lack of execution that is preventing Detroit from pulling out a win. On a night when you got great defensive performances from Killian Hayes, Thompson, and some strong team D, it all came apart because of Detroit’s lack of focus when it mattered.
The Pistons had 36 assists on the night, but all that quality passing doesn’t mean anything when you commit 17 turnovers, typically in bunches, that turned the game from a one-possession affair to a nine-point game that required the Pistons to scratch and claw their way back into.
Cunningham had a pretty terrific first half as a distributor, notching seven assists. The Pistons took a 75-70 lead with 7:44 to play in the third. Within a three-minute stretch of the third quarter, Cunningham committed three sloppy turnovers, earned a tech, and suddenly the Hawks were up 86-81.
Cade finished with nine points, 12 assists, and six turnovers. His jumper looks completely busted, and I am starting to wonder if he is not completely healthy and whether there is something going on with his surgically repaired shin. The shots don’t look particularly close. Cunningham is 16-of-51 (31%) from outside of five feet in his past five games.
Worth keeping an eye on if you can continue to stomach watching this struggling Pistons team.