(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Crazy comeback as Pistons win a shootout


Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 133-131 win over the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center

CRAZY COMEBACK – The Sacramento Kings scored 45 points in the second quarter – the most points the Pistons have given up in any quarter all season – and if you’re thinking, well, that’s the NBA today with all the 3-point shooting, nope. That wasn’t it. The Kings scored 24 of those points in the paint and 10 more at the foul line. And, somehow, after spotting Sacramento a 12-point lead in the third quarter, the Pistons stormed back to take a 105-103 lead into the fourth quarter after piling up 39 points of their own in the third. They had to come back again, trailing by 10 with three minutes to go, but Cory Joseph’s jump shot with 26 seconds left put them ahead 133-131. The Pistons survived two Sacramento shots to win or tie on the final possession, but pulled out the win on the strength of a season-high scoring output led by Saddiq Bey’s 30 points. The comeback was launched when the Pistons stopped fouling Sacramento, going eight minutes without getting whistled for a foul after piling up 23 in the game’s first 32 minutes. Sacramento’s Terrance Davis, who finished with a career-high 35, scored 14 in the fourth quarter to lead the Kings back. His 3-pointer with 15 seconds left missed and De’Aaron Fox’s jump shot to tie also missed at the buzzer. Four Pistons picked up three first-half fouls and Cade Cunningham lasted barely a minute into the third quarter before picking up his fourth, collected his fifth with seven minutes to play and fouled out with 2:34 left having played just 21 minutes. The Pistons committed 16 first-half fouls and Sacramento shot 29 free throws in the half – six free throws more than the Pistons allow on average per game. The season high for fouls, 28, came at San Antonio on Dec. 26 when the Pistons were playing with mostly G League players on emergency 10-day contracts amid their COVID-19 wave. The 37 free throws that the Spurs shot in that game, the most against the Pistons until Wednesday, were surpassed midway through the third quarter. Joseph finished with 19 points and nine assists.

A SOLID RETURN – Kelly Olynyk, after missing more than two months and 33 games, made his return at Sacramento and reminded everyone how instrumental the Pistons expected him to be – to their offense, to their second unit and to the group Dwane Casey wants on the floor to finish games. Olynyk finished with 22 points in 22 minutes, adding nine rebounds and five assists. Olynyk came off the bench midway through the first quarter and played a little more than eight minutes in the first half, checking out with six points, four rebounds and an assist. A few mid-range shots he missed might have been the byproduct of rust, but Olynyk had a great two-way interlude just before heading to the bench when he blocked a Davion Mitchell layup attempt at one end and seconds later followed up Josh Jackson’s missed layup with a put-back dunk. When both Isaiah Stewart and Trey Lyles were hit with a third foul in the second quarter, Olynyk came back to finish the half. He came back at the same juncture of the third quarter and then returned to play the final 3:37, the Pistons trailing by seven when he came back. His triple with 1:36 to play pulled the Pistons within three points.

AND THEN THERE WERE 2 – With Kelly Olynyk returning to the Pistons, that leaves them without two of their rotation mainstays – starter and leading scorer Jerami Grant and leading scorer off the bench Frank Jackson – in addition to Killian Hayes and his short-term injury. Hayes missed Wednesday’s game after suffering a right hip contusion in Tuesday’s loss at Golden State, but Dwane Casey said he doesn’t expect the injury to be a lingering concern. Grant has been assigned to the Motor City Cruise of the G League, though he and Luka Garza are now in NBA health and safety protocols – the 10th and 11th members of the Pistons to enter the protocols since late December. Jackson, who became the ninth to enter the protocols but has since exited, is now listed as reconditioning. Jackson initially was lost to the Pistons on Dec. 29 when he sprained an ankle in the first half of a loss to the Knicks. Veteran Rodney McGruder, who scored a season-high 19 points on Tuesday in his first game since returning via the rescinded trade with Denver, contributed 15 points in 32 minutes, his minutes extended due to Cade Cunningham’s persistent foul trouble.