Jaden Ivey pulled a Chris Webber.
And he did it on C-Webb’s birthday.
After rallying back from down 21 points, the Detroit Pistons had a chance to tie or take the lead against the struggling Chicago Bulls. Ivey, inbounding the ball without a timeout remaining, couldn’t find an angle to get Bojan Bogdanovic the ball.
So, he called a timeout.
And, effectively, ended the game as the Zach LaVine knocked down a technical free throw followed by two more makes from DeMar DeRozan as the Pistons dropped their sixth-straight game, 117-115, to Chicago at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday.
I wrote this recap three times before hitting send.
First, it was about how pathetic an effort the Pistons game. How the Bulls, an allegory to the mightily mediocre Pistons of yesteryear, came to LCA closer in the standings to last-place Detroit than top-seeded Boston and walked away looking like a playoff contender.
Then it was about how the Pistons surprise you sometimes, making a snoozer of a game into an exciting finish that makes you want to buy into what they’re capable of doing.
In the end, they did what they always do — they found a way to lose.
I know, I know, TANK TANK TANK WEMBY SCOOOT TANK TANK.... but you can’t lose them all.
This is a young team that keeps coming close, and keeps finding ways to lose. They feel more like the Detroit Lions than the Detroit Pistons, inventing new ways to blow games.
Ivey’s mistake was just that tonight. With 18 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, he played a pretty good game outside of it. He was under control and unbothered by two good defensive guards for Chicago in Alex Caruso and Patrick Beverly.
But the rookie, inbounding the ball with the game on the line, had a brain fart. Simple as that.
Why he was passing the ball in and not Cory Joseph is a good question. I think the answer is that Ivey needs to learn what to do in those situations. Developing him is, after all, the most important job for Dwane Casey down the stretch.
But man, what a way to lose.
I know many of you want this team to finish with the worst record so they’re guaranteed a top-five pick, but in the end, failing to land the first or second pick is catastrophic to them no matter where they pick in the 3-7 range.
I think earning a win in a game like this is a good thing for the young guys.
Ivey was the best of the young ones, but Killian Hayes had a nice game, too.
He finished with 11 points and 7 assists but, interestingly, was on the bench for CoJo late. I think part of that was rewarding the veteran for helping lead the comeback, but it also shows the continued lack of, I don’t know, energy and interest being put into Hayes’ development at this point.
It feels like the franchise knows what they have and aren’t concerned with really pushing the envelope with him down the stretch. It could be Casey rewarding his favorite player with some extended run in a close game knowing his run as a player of any substance, however small it may be, likely ends after this season.
James Wiseman was bad in the first half and good in the second, a trend I’ve noticed in each of his games with Detroit. When there’s a bit more oomph to the game and something on the line, his energy jumps considerably. He only took five shots, but finished with 7 points and 9 rebounds and held his own against Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond.
I still don’t get why people boo the hell out of Drummond, but that’s a tangent I don’t want to go on.
The stars of the show were the wings — LaVine and Bogdanovic. The latter scored 41 points for Chicago, an effortless showing that should have kept rolling in the fourth if not for DeRozan hijacking the ball with iso after iso that slowly let Detroit back into it.
Bogey was vintage Bogey. He has a game once every few weeks where you realize how freaking awesome he is as a scorer, and tonight was that night. He knocked down eight triples en route to 34 points.
It’s not ideal that the Pistons are down so many bigs, but when Bogey can play power forward — which he did nearly full-time at the end in Utah — he’s just better. So far with Detroit, he’s been almost exclusively a small forward, a position that has not only passed him by defensively but allows for fewer mismatches offensively.
Hamidou Diallo did take advantage of the lack of bigs again, scoring 19 points and doing all of the good (and bad) that he normally does. His energy was infectious though and for such a morose team, he’s such an easy guy to root for.
Finally for the tankers, Detroit is now a half game up on the Spurs and one game back of the Rockets for the worst record in the NBA.
Let us know your thoughts on tonight’s game in the comments!