Pistons misfire from near and far as 2-game win streak snapped by Chicago
Nic Antaya (NBAe via Getty Images)
Three quick observations from Sunday night’s 100-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls at Little Caesars Arena
SHOOTING BLANKS – When the Pistons and Bulls met Feb. 17 at Chicago, it came down to a fourth-quarter shootout between Jerami Grant and Zach LaVine. Grant scored a career-high 43 points but the Pistons couldn’t hold on to a 25-point first-half lead in a 105-102 loss in which LaVine scored 37 points. Grant started off on the same track – he scored 14 points in the first 10 minutes and made his first five shots – but then made just 2 of 15 shots before a layup with four minutes to go and finished with 26 points, hitting 9 of 22 shots overall and 1 of 7 from the 3-point line after making his first triple. There was no shootout this time because the Pistons shot a lot of blanks. Yeah, their poor shooting from the 3-point arc was a factor, but so was their inability to convert nearer the basket. The Pistons were 14 of 36 on shots in the paint through three quarters and unofficially finished 19 of 45. LaVine entered the game averaging 28.5 points per game for the season, was held to just five points on 1 of 6 shooting in the first half and finished with 18 points.The Pistons, coming off the season’s second two-game win streak, shot just 39 percent and 16 percent from the 3-point line.
AUDITION TIME – It’s not unusual for players on 10-day contracts to barely work up a sweat in games before their time is up, but Dwane Casey said before Sunday’s game that the Pistons wanted “to get a good look” at Tyler Cook. Cook’s signing was announced by the Pistons on Thursday and he played in Friday’s win at Houston in the second half, finishing with two points and five rebounds in nine minutes. Cook came off the bench in the first quarter against Chicago, not taking a shot and finishing with two rebounds in nine minutes. The Pistons could sign Cook to a second 10-day contract when his first is up at the end of this week. Another player the Pistons want to take the full measure of over the season’s final eight weeks: Dennis Smith Jr. After missing a week and three games due to health and safety protocols, Smith returned on Friday at Houston for 19 minutes and looked back in the groove against Chicago. He had an especially good first half before his time was limited in the second half as Casey used Saben Lee. Smith finished with seven pints, five assists and four rebounds in 18 minutes.
TOUGH GOING – When the Pistons struggled through their 46-point first half, three players – Josh Jackson, Frank Jackson and Saddiq Bey – were at the heart of the issue, combining to make one basket in 18 shots. Josh Jackson went 0 of 8, Bey 0 of 4 and Frank Jackson 1 of 6, hitting his last shot after starting 0 of 5. Frank Jackson turned it around in the second half, finishing 5 of 11 from the field and scoring 12 points with four rebounds. Josh Jackson, who’d played two straight superb games in wins over Toronto and Houston, missed his first 10 shots before finally cashing in on a layup in the fourth quarter. He finished with four points, going 1 of 12 from the field. Bey, coming off the first consecutive 20-point games of his career, missed his first two shots of the second half early in the third quarter and then not taking another shot until missing a 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play. He finished with three points – hitting a triple at the final buzzer – while shooting 1 of 9.