MRI set for Hayes as Pistons hope for the best for their rookie after loss to the Bucks
Gary Dineen (NBAE/Getty)
The Pistons knew accelerating the learning curve of rookie Killian Hayes by making him a starter would necessitate absorbing a healthy dose of NBA lessons. They’re now hoping learning how to deal with lingering injury and the agony of rehabilitation isn’t one of them.
Hayes survived a tweaked right ankle that sidelined him for a half last week, but Monday’s injury to his right hip might be more troublesome. Hayes crumpled to the court while pursuing Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday in transition after a Pistons turnover early in the second half of their 125-115 loss to the Bucks, grabbing at his upper right thigh and hip as he grimaced from a non-contact injury and sending the team’s medical staff into scramble mode.
Dwane Casey said after the game that Hayes will undergo testing in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
“He’s going to have an MRI tomorrow,” Casey said. “We’ll find out more. They thought it was a hip flexor, but they weren’t sure.”
Recovery time for a hip flexor is dependent on the severity of the injury. Relatively minor ones could sideline a player for a few games, perhaps, but more serious ones could mean a month or more away.
Even before the Pistons lost Hayes, they were facing no shortage of adversity against the Bucks. Start with the fact the Pistons were playing a back to back – their third game in four nights – against the rested Bucks. Then factor in the absence of two starters, Blake Griffin and Josh Jackson – two players who certainly would have been in the mix of defenders Dwane Casey would have thrown at two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to do whatever possible to disrupt his rhythm.
About that last item: Antetokounmpo hit 12 of 14 shots in the first half, 11 of 12 on shots inside the 3-point arc, and the 11 made 2-pointers came from distances that cumulatively wouldn’t have amounted to a 3-pointer.
“That was one of the first things I mentioned when I got in the locker room after the game,” Derrick Rose said of the ease with which Antetokounmpo got his buckets. “We tried making sure nobody was on an island by themselves and after the game everyone understood where I was coming from.”
“We’ve got to get back,” Casey said. “I thought we got duped into taking some of those shots they want you to take, which really ignites their break.”
The Bucks wound up scoring 62 points in the paint – 40 in the first half, much of it Antetokounmpo’s.
You want a little more adversity just to make things excruciating? The Pistons signed Jerami Grant, a long-limbed and versatile defender, precisely for these types of matchups. And 99 seconds into Monday’s game, he was whistled for his second foul.
“With Jerami getting two ticky-tack fouls – I thought, which was unfortunate for us – it kind of set us back a little bit,” Casey said. “I though Sekou (Doumbouya) came in and played as well as he could and hit a couple of shots and kind of kept us close.”
“We have to play team defense,” Rose said. “It’s not all on J.G. to go out and defend him one on one. It’s a team sport. Next time, just got to make it harder for him and just compete.”
Next time will be Wednesday, the second straight sequence for the Pistons of consecutive games against the same opponent after splitting with Boston over the weekend.
Casey said before the game he hopes to have Jackson back for the rematch and Griffin sat out only to be cautious with his surgically repaired left knee. So the Pistons will be closer to full strength on Wednesday, but the Hayes injury is sobering for a team that has unfailingly played hard – Monday’s game was the only one of their seven this season where they didn’t lead at some point of the fourth quarter – with little reward so far.
“A learning experience for our guys,” Casey said. “I thought we competed hard. We got ourselves back in position, but the little things. … A lot of good things but too many negatives to beat a team like this.”
Antetokounmpo finished with 43 after his 30-point first half, but it spoke to the fight in the Pistons that Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer didn’t feel secure enough in the outcome to remove his superstar until the final minute for a team whose three wins coming into the game came by an ungodly average of 39 points a game.
Grant rebounded from the two quick fouls to join Rose in leading the Pistons in scoring with 24 points, the sixth straight game in which Grant has scored 20 or more points. Doumbouya, who turned 20 on opening night, scored 13, as did Svi Mykhailiuk and Wayne Ellington, the latter starting in Jackson’s stead.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” said Doumbouya, who despite sporadic minutes in competition with Grant, Griffin and rookie Saddiq Bey at the forward spots has continued to play well in his second season. “Blake was out today and I just had to be ready.”