Well, that was fun! On a night where the Detroit Pistons’ roster was stretched thinner than usual, they put together one of the most complete performances of the season to end their 11-game losing streak in a 117-97 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. This was the teams’ second matchup in three days and matched Detroit’s largest margin of victory of the season (20).
The Pistons led by as many as 31 points and halted a third-quarter comeback effort from Indiana when they came to within 16. Ultimately, timely shots and a better rebound effort than last game kept them above water.
Detroit received an energy jolt from players obviously looking to prove themselves given the open opportunities, as they were short Bojan Bogdanovic, Jaden Ivey, Alec Burks and Marvin Bagley due to injuries. It was a balanced effort overall, as Detroit had seven players finish in double-figures scoring. Rodney Mcgruger (18 points) and Cory Joseph (22 points) each posted season highs in their increased roles and combined to shoot 9-of-13 from three. R.J. Hampton added 15 points off the bench and made all three of his outside attempts.
With Bagley out, the Memphis Tiger tandem of James Wiseman and Jalen Duren stepped up and were able to play more to their styles with extra floor spacing and rebounding opportunities. Wiseman finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds and continues to look more comfortable by the game on his new squad. Duren tallied 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
In his most impressive outing to date on this short-handed roster, Eugene Omoruyi posted 17 points and led the team in box score plus-minus (+24). Omoruyi signed his second 10-day contract earlier today and has taken advantage of his sudden role on the squad, scoring in double figures in three of his last four games. It’s tough to assess whether Detroit will include him in their future plans with so many youngsters on the roster, but he’s certainly killing his NBA audition so far in a short stint.
Killian Hayes posted another solid performance as the Pistons’ lead playmaker, scoring 10 points and dishing 10 assists in the victory. The third-year point guard scored or assisted on the team’s first eight field goals tonight, helping them jump out to a commanding lead in which the Pacers ultimately couldn’t claw their way back from. This was Hayes’ second straight double-double and as these performances begin to mound, it should only help him as Troy Weaver and co. mull over his contract decision this offseason.
Aside from the offensive output, Detroit held Indiana (who was short Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner) to a poor shooting night overall. The Pacers were just 10-34 from three point range and shot just under 42 percent overall from the field. Buddy Hield, who leads the league in three pointers made, shot just 1-7 from beyond the arc tonight.
The Pistons can now take their much needed victory lap of morale, as Monday night’s win was a culmination of hard-fought performances in recent weeks that ultimately ended in defeat. Say what you want about the team needing avoid winning like the plague, victories like this are important for young rosters attempting to build a winning identity. It’s very unlikely it will spark any sort of winning streak, but high-effort performances like this from a young team is needed late in the season to carry into next year.