Three quick observations from Monday night’s 132-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena
FIRST STOP, FIRST WIN – Coming off their worst defeat of the season, the Pistons appeared on their way to winning by something close to the 44 points they lost to the Knicks by on Saturday night. A 17-0 run led to an 18-point lead midway through the first quarter. Another 10-0 run to open the second quarter made it a 23-point lead. Oklahoma City was without its five leading scorers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Al Horford, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Mike Muscala – but the Thunder came back in each half to cut their deficit to single digits before the Pistons pulled away in the fourth quarter to open a five-game Western Conference road trip with a win. Isaiah Stewart, drawing his third start of the season, was at the center of the fast start. Before the first quarter was half finished, Stewart had established a career high with four blocked shots. He also had a steal, four points and three rebounds in that time. He finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks in just 22 minutes. Fellow rookie Saddiq Bey scored 10 points and hit one 3-pointer to allow him to tie Brandon Knight’s Pistons rookie record of 105 3-pointers made. Knight did it in 66 games, Bey in 49.
TRADE REVISITED – A little more than three weeks since the Pistons acquired Hamidou Diallo from Oklahoma City in exchange for Svi Mykhailiuk, he returned to the only NBA home he’d known before joining the Pistons and helped contribute to Monday’s win. Diallo finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a steal and a blocked shot in 24 minutes. The Pistons were plus-15 in Diallo’s time on the floor. Dwane Casey said before the game that Diallo, who has been held out of the two back-to-back second games the Pistons have played since they acquired him, won’t necessarily sit in the six remaining back to backs – the first of which comes Tuesday night at Denver. The farther out Diallo gets from the groin injury that sidelined him from Feb. 24 until his March 26 Pistons debut, Casey said, the more likely it becomes that he’ll be able to play in back to backs. Mykhailiuk has moved into Oklahoma City’s starting lineup the past five games and he was one of the Thunder’s bright spots against the Pistons, finishing with 17 points and four steals. Entering Monday’s matchup, he was averaging 9.4 points in 23 minutes a game. His 3-point numbers in Oklahoma City were practically identical to his numbers with the Pistons: a 33.3 percentage on 4.7 attempts a game with the Thunder after taking 4.8 attempts with the Pistons, also at a 33.3 percent rate. In his first nine games with Oklahoma City, Mykhailiuk attempted a total of five free throws. He shot four in the game’s first three minutes and finished 6 of 6 at the line, but the Thunder were minus-22 in his 26 minutes.
TAKE A BREAK - Mason Plumlee and Wayne Ellington were held out by the Pistons, Dwane Casey saying it was on the advice of the team’s medical staff based on what their metrics were showing them about the two veterans physical stress load. That made the Pistons an exceptionally young team. The oldest player to appear in the game was 29-year-old Cory Joseph. The oldest starter was Jerami Grant, who turned 27 last month. Grant finished with 21 points in 23 minutes – well below his average of 35 minutes a game - as Casey spread minutes around liberally. Casey has mentioned Grant as a player who’s carried a heavy workload this season, so perhaps he would be rested at some point over the season’s final 22 games. And no starter besides Grant played more than 22 minutes. The Pistons had seven players finish in double figures and three other players scored nine points.