Three quick observations from Tuesday night’s 117-97 loss to the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT – The Pistons reward for Monday’s 20-point win to snap their 11-game losing streak was a trip to Washington and a game 24 hours later with still one more player added to their injured list, bringing to seven the number unavailable for Tuesday’s match with the Wizards. Isaiah Livers, who missed much of training camp with a hip injury, was the addition to Monday’s lengthy injury report with right hip soreness. It looked like the list would grow yet again when Eugene Omoruyi went down midway through the first quarter in obvious pain with a left ankle sprain. The Pistons trailed 18-14 at the time, but with a scrambled lineup already short on size they surrendered a 20-2 run that saw their deficit grow to 22 points. Omoruyi was able to return late in the first half to give the Pistons a modicum of depth, but they were outmanned and outsized with only two big men (James Wiseman, Jalen Duren) and one true forward (Omoruyi) among the nine available bodies. It all meant the most opportunity yet for two-way players Buddy Boeheim and Jared Rhoden and they responded with some nice moments. Boeheim finished with eight points, hitting 2 of 5 from the 3-point arc. Rhoden added seven points and four rebounds. The Pistons trailed by 22 after three quarters but put a scare into the Wizards by opening the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run with a lineup that included the two two-way players. But Washington pulled away again to win comfortably. Killian Hayes finished with 20 points and seven assists for the Pistons, who have lost 16 straight games at Capital One Arena dating to Jan. 18, 2014.
A LONG NIGHT – James Wiseman didn’t have much tread worn off his tires when he arrived from Golden State, playing only 262 minutes with the Warriors over 21 games with them in his third season. He’d already exceeded his minutes total, 282, in his 11 games with the Pistons coming into Tuesday’s game. On a back to back, Wiseman was forced to soak up 21 first-half minutes because of Jalen Duren’s inability to stay out of foul trouble, picking up three fouls in three minutes after coming off the bench in the first quarter. Whether it was fatigue or Kristaps Porzingis’ extreme length, Wiseman, shooting 58.2 percent since joining the Pistons, shot 3 of 14 in the first half – without drawing a foul despite the majority of his shots coming within 5 feet of the rim – and finished 4 of 15, taking only one second-half shot, for 12 points and 10 boards in 31 minutes. Duren came back to play 14 second-half minutes and contributed nine points and eight rebounds.
ANOTHER LONG NIGHT – R.J. Hampton scored two points on 1 of 7 shooting across 35 minutes over his first three games with the Pistons and looked very much like a player who’d played a total of 55 seconds since early January before being waived by Orlando. But he came into Tuesday’s game at Washington on a decided upswing. In his six games since those opening three games, Hampton sported averages of 10.5 points in 19 minutes a game while shooting better than 50 percent from both two (51.3) and three (52.6), taking nearly exactly half his shots (19 of 39) from the 3-point arc. Hampton’s run of efficient scoring came to a halt at Washington, though, as he hit 2 of 7 shots and finished with five points and three rebounds in 27 minutes and generally didn’t have the same bounce in his step that’s caught the eye over the past 10 days. The type of scoring efficiency Hampton had displayed in his previous six games will go a long way toward carving out an NBA future for him because he’s not known primarily as a scorer. Rangy and active defensively and able to play anywhere on the perimeter, Hampton’s value skyrockets if he proves a capable playmaker and knocks down shots to go with his disruptive defensive traits.