10 points and 12 percent shooting: 3rd quarter blues sink Pistons at Memphis
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MEMPHIS – The good news is the Pistons snapped their 29-game streak of surrendering at least 100 points, longest in the NBA. The bad news is … well, everything else.
The 96 points the Pistons gave up would have been enough to win if:
But all of those things happened and their convergence meant the Pistons scored 82 points, eclipsing by a point their previous season low of 81 at Utah to wrap up the 2019 portion of the schedule. Their 10-point third quarter and 29-point second half were both season lows, unsurprisingly. The Pistons shot 34.7 percent for the game.
“Ugly. Ugly’s the best word I could use,” Casey said of the third quarter. “It was the opposite of the way we moved the ball yesterday.”
Griffin’s out for the long haul after January knee surgery and Kennard isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break, but the Pistons had grown accustomed to playing without the two of them. The most recent wave of injuries – Rose went out at halftime of Sunday’s win with a groin injury and both Morris and Mykhailiuk sat with right hip strains, Morris missing his second straight game – left Casey with a mere eight-man rotation and further muddied his rotation pattern.
Not the ideal recipe under any circumstances, let alone a back to back off an overtime game.
“Man, man, man,” Langston Galloway muttered. “Yeah, it’s always tough when you’ve got a few guys out and just trying to continue to fight. It’s a game that we should’ve got. They played with more energy than us tonight.”
Galloway was one of three Pistons who seemed unaffected by the double-whammy impact of schedule and injury, shooting 7 of 12 overall and 3 of 5 from the 3-point arc for 17 points in 37 minutes. Andre Drummond was a workhorse again with 25 points and 18 rebounds, hitting 12 of 22 shots, also in 37 minutes. And Christian Wood hit 7 of 11 shots and scored 17 points in 34 minutes.
The other five Pistons shot a combined 8 of 53. Reggie Jackson – playing 24 minutes in his first back to back of the season after logging a season-high 34 minutes in his eighth game on Sunday – and Sekou Doumbouya shot a combined 3 of 31, each going 0 of 10 inside the 3-point arc. Doumbouya was 2 of 15, Jackson 1 of 16.
Despite their 10-point third quarter, the Pistons still had a puncher’s chance, trailing by only nine points entering the fourth quarter. They just didn’t have a passing gear in them.
“I don’t want to make any excuses, but, yeah,” Galloway said of the obstacles the Pistons faced. “We had a lot of lapses out there tonight – defensive assignments, transition, a lot of offensive rebounds and then the loose balls. The big thing was the loose balls they were getting and easy buckets at the rim. That just killed us down the stretch.”
While the Pistons don’t expect the injuries to Rose, Morris and Mykhailiuk are long-term issues, they don’t get much time to heal before the All-Star break starts after the Feb. 12 game at Orlando. They have five games between now and then including another back to back this weekend.
Casey pushed back on any opening to use their plight – be it injuries or scheduling challenges – to feel sorry for themselves.
“It’s a painful experience for me,” he said. “I’m not used to this. It’s been a long time since I’ve gong through this. Hopefully, it hurts them and not just, ‘OK, let’s go to the next game and see what happens.’ You don’t want to build bad habits because that stays in your locker room if you’re not careful and that’s what I’m trying to prevent. That mentality stay in your locker room and that’s what I’ve got to fight and keep from happening with this group.”