Pistons try to turn the tables, but can’t overcome early 21-point deficit in loss at Memphis
Joe Murphy (NBAE via Getty Images)
Three quick observations from Friday night’s 109-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum
EARLY HOLE – Losing a 25-point lead and the game at Chicago truly was a learning experience for the Pistons. Two nights later, they spotted Memphis a 21-point lead and tried to win one that way. It almost worked. They pulled within 10 at halftime and then – on an early flurry of 3-pointers, three by rookie Saddiq Bey – pulled within one less than three minutes into the third quarter. But Memphis built its lead back to 11 headed to the fourth quarter and the Pistons – though they again pulled within a point with 6:27 left, 90-89 – never quite got over the hump. Delon Wright exited early in the fourth quarter, straining his right groin, after hitting a 3-pointer to give him 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting. That likely leaves Dennis Smith Jr. as the starting point guard if Wright were to miss time with rookie Saben Lee, playing on a two-way contract, as his backup. Two dooming stats for the Pistons: Memphis scored 24 points in the paint in the first quarter alone and finished with 66; and the Pistons committed 21 turnovers that Memphis converted into 24 points. Jerami Grant, coming off his career-high 43 points finished with 16 on a rough shooting night, hitting 5 of 20 overall and 2 of 10 from the 3-point arc. Ja Morant scored 29 for Memphis.
HAYES UPDATE – Dwane Casey said the role Killian Hayes will hold whenever he returns from the hip injury he suffered in early January will be determined by what the circumstances dictate and medical advice directs at the time. The Pistons announced in mid-January that Hayes, who was diagnosed with a hip subluxation – or partial dislocation – after consulting with Pistons team doctors and visits to specialists in New York and Cleveland, would be re-evaluated in eight weeks after undergoing rehabilitation. It’s possible that if the rehabilitation goes as hoped, Hayes could return several weeks ahead of the mid-May conclusion of the regular season – or enough to give him a solid base of work to take into the off-season. “We’ll see when he comes back, how he responds to his workouts,” Casey said. “I’m not going to put him in a box or put ourselves in a box. He’s going to get his minutes. As far as what role, we’ll see once he does come back and how healthy he is, if there’s a minutes restriction or whatever.”
SEKOU’S BACK – After missing the past two games with a concussion, the Pistons other young French import, Sekou Doumbouya, rejoined the Pistons amid their five-game road trip. He went through the morning walk-through, Dwane Casey said, but didn’t play in the first half after missing more than a week and not having the benefit of a practice to get himself readied for play. Doumbouya entered the game to start the fourth quarter playing power forward. He scored on his first touch, finishing a nice left-handed drive through traffic, and drained his second shot, a deep triple to pull the Pistons within three with eight minutes to play. Doumbouya played six minutes and finished with five points on 2 of 3 shooting plus two rebounds. Doumbouya has appeared in 25 games and came into Friday averaging 13.1 minutes, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds. He’s only shot 25.6 percent from the 3-point arc for the season and 35 percent overall, taking 38 percent of his shots from the 3-point line.