Coming into Memphis Friday night, the Pistons were quite familiar with the Grizzlies abilities. Afterall, the two teams faced off in Detroit at the beginning of the week and lost off a dominant Ja Morant performance. It would be a highly competitive rematch that would require four quarters of great basketball. In addition, Dwane Casey decided to make another adjustment to Detroit’s starting lineup. 19 year old rookie Center Jalen Duren made his debut in the starting lineup, just under two months into his rookie season. And although Durenb finished with a double double and a solid second half performance, it would ultimately not be enough. The Grizzlies handled the Pistons again, winning 114-103.
The Pistons were plagued with their usual issues on the offensive end without Cade Cunningham. Bojan Bogdanovic was able to get 19 points, but outside of him, not much else. In particular, Jaden Ivey and Saddiq Bey saw a continuation of their respective slumps. Ivey went 4-14 from the field and turned the ball over five times. Memphis is a top five defensive team in the league, and willl capitalize off of any mistakes. Bey went 2-10 from the field himself, and the struggles with his consistency seem to continue. Marvin Bagley seemed to be extra motivated coming off the bench, especially in the first half. Bagley came out determined on both ends, and even finished with four blocks.
Pistons were worked in the paint, despite Jalen Duren starting
Despite Dwane Casey inserting big man Jalen Duren in the starting lineup, the Grizzlies got whatever the pleased in the paint. Memphis scored 68 of their points in the interior, well over half of their offense. The Pistons both shot better from the free throw line, and from beyond the arc. Yet, they never were in control of this game, because of Memphis’s physicality on both ends. The roster surrounding Ja Morant is a modern NBA version of Memphis ‘grit n grind’. And with Morant leading the show with his scoring and his playmaking, it’s near impossible to contain. Even on a night that Morant when 0-7 from beyond the arc, he still managed to get 12 assists and picked Detroit apart with his vision and ball movement.
The second unit for the Pistons has continued to be a bright spot, even in the midst of defeat. Kevin Knox is continuing his hot streak from the field, going 4-5 from the field, and a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc. He has continued to play with supreme confidence, and has cemented himself in the rotation. Knox has seemingly taken the spot of Hamidou Diallo in the rotation, at least for the time being, with the guard earning a DNP in Memphis. Detroit did have spurts in the first half where they kept this game competitive. However, they came out in the third quarter making mistakes and turning the ball over. Their habit of starting slow in the first and the third quarters was yet again their undoing.
Detroit heads home to host Lebron and the Lakers
Despite coming back 1-2 on their brief road trip, the Pistons did overall play well. Especially when you consider the quality of competition on the trip. Detroit got their win against the Miami Heat, a team struggling this year, but made the conference finals last year. And then followed that win with a competitive loss against the red hot New Orleans Pelicans. And with yet another game facing a defensive presence in the likes of Anthony Davis, it could be tough for the likes of Jaden Ivey. However, Detroit has continued to maintain a competitive level over the course of the last few weeks.
The Lakers are coming into Detroit off of an OT collapse to the 76ers, and on a 3 game losing streak. However, Anthony Davis is seemingly playing the best basketball of his life, companied with a very capable 38 year old LeBron James. Even sitting towards the bottom of their conference, the Lakers can’t be ruled out. Especially when they are playing with the motivation of convincing Rob Pelinka and their front office to invest in this team moving forward. The Lakers did defeat the Pistons in their previous matchup, off of a monster performance from Davis. If Detroit wants to stand a chance against the Lakers, they will need to find a way to manage the onslaught in the paint. Especially coming off of a night giving up nearly 70 points inside.
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