Wizards mastery over Pistons continues, but Stewart & Jackson sparkle off the bench
Ned Dishman (NBAE via Getty Images)
Three quick observations from Saturday night’s 121-100 loss to the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena
DREADED DOZEN – The Pistons got their troops back – most of them, anyway – but Washington’s Capital One Arena continues to be their house of horrors. Saturday’s loss was the 12th straight incurred by the Pistons dating to Jan. 18, 2014. Despite another terrific game from rookie Isaiah Stewart and scoring punch off the bench from Frank Jackson, the Pistons – who trailed by six at halftime and by 13 after three quarters – saw the game get out of hand early in the fourth quarter in a back to back after Friday’s win over Oklahoma City. The Pistons won on Friday despite having seven players sidelined. Starters Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant and Cory Joseph and key reserve Wayne Ellington all returned, but rookie point guard Killian Hayes was rested as the Pistons continue to be cautious with his use since returning earlier this month from a hip injury. The Wizards, fighting for a play-in berth and essentially in a three-way tie for the 10th and final spot with Chicago and Toronto to begin the night, are now 6-1 in their last seven games.
NO LET-UP – Dwane Casey wanted to be a little cautious with Isaiah Stewart’s playing time after the rookie played 32 minutes, one off of his season high, in Friday’s win over Oklahoma City – especially because of how hard Stewart plays. But Stewart started fast and made it pretty tough for Casey to tamp down his minutes. Stewart has defied logic by actually being more productive in his minutes as a starter than he’s been as a high-energy reserve this season. And he didn’t appear fatigued by Friday’s outing, managing six points and eight rebounds in the six minutes he played to finish Saturday’s first quarter, finishing with a career-best 19 points a night after grabbing a career-high 21 rebounds. Stewart also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots in his 24 minutes. Stewart’s per-36 numbers as a starter vs. as a reserve: 16.8 points per 36 as a starter vs. 11.8 off the bench; 13.7 rebounds per 36 as a starter vs. 10.9 as a reserve; 2.3 blocks and 2.3 assists per 36 as a starter vs. 1.8 and 1.5 as a reserve. He’s shooting 72.5 percent as a starter, 55 percent off of the bench. Stewart has averaged 28 minutes a game in his five starts and 19 minutes a game as a reserve.
FRANK TALK – Frank Jackson might be playing with house money by this point in his bid to do enough to be included in Pistons future plans. Signed to a two-way contract after being waived by Oklahoma City coming out of training camp, Jackson was given a boost by the NBA’s decision to waive the cap on days permissible for players on two-way deals to spend with the NBA parent team as a nod to the challenges of fielding full rosters during the COVID-19 pandemic. And he’s taken full advantage since being available every game and elevated – by virtue of his play – to a permanent spot in the rotation. Jackson bounced back from a rare ineffective night when he went scoreless in Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers by scoring 18 in Friday’s win over Oklahoma City and coming back with 19 more in Saturday’s loss. Jackson continues to knock down 3-point shots at an elite clip – he came into the game at 40.5 percent for the season and hit 3 of 6 at Washington – but he’s also a real threat off the dribble given his quickness and athleticism. Jackson hit 5 of 7 shots inside the arc, as well.