I’ve watched a lot of bad basketball this season. I’ve watched it live. I’ve taken copious notes. I’ve written recaps published minutes after the buzzer. But today, with the Detroit Pistons facing the Washington Wizards at 3 p.m. ET on MLK Day, I was busy working. I missed the game. I missed a Pistons victory. One of the most rare specimens in all of professional sports.
I am writing this belated recap following the rebroadcast on Bally Sports Detroit. But enough about me. Let’s talk about an incredible performance from several Detroit Pistons, and a very Detroit Pistons performance that almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Pistons outplayed the Wizards consistently throughout the game. They were cutting harder, sharing the ball, communicating on defense. Jaden Ivey felt liberated as a focal point of the offense (24 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four blocks). Jalen Duren was a monster on the boards, running the floor, and at the rim (20 points, 19 rebounds on 8-of-8 shooting in just 26 minutes). Ausar Thompson had time on the floor, the ball in his hands, and like he did earlier in the season, he found ways to put the ball in the basket (14 points, eight rebounds). And Isaiah Stewart remembered he was a big man and did plenty of damage in the paint and on defense (16 points, team-high +19).
But the Pistons were, occasionally, still the Pistons. They have a knack for getting in their own way. Usually through turnovers. And that was as true tonight as ever. The Pistons had 16 turnovers that Washington was able to turn into 21 points. Ivey had five, including some really ugly stretches where bad decisions were happening in quick succession.
Oftentimes, the Wizards were able to take advantage of a Pistons defense struggling to get back and match up and turn those into open 3-point tries. They sank 19 3-pointers on the night, and that is truly what kept the game close.
But everytime the Pistons looked like they were ready to give this game away like they have done so many games this season, veteran Alec Burks said “not tonight.”
Burks was ready and willing to shoot, and he hit a season-high eight three-pointers. Anytime the Pistons were in trouble, Burks either called for the ball and got an open look or himself to the line, or he found the open space and younger Pistons were eager to kick it out to the open man.
It was, for the first time this season, a convincing in for the Pistons. More of those, please.