Pistons Digest: The return of a (healthy) Jalen Duren means a world of difference for the Pistons - and more

Officially, Jalen Duren missed seven games with a sprained ankle. But the Jalen Duren who played the first three games of the season – the Pistons winning two of them – wasn’t really there in the other four he had played since coming down on an opponent’s foot as the Pistons lost to Oklahoma City back on Oct. 30.

But that looked an awful lot like the real Jalen Duren when he came back after sitting out two weeks to let that ankle more fully heal and allow all of his raw explosiveness to be refreshed. When he checked into Friday’s game at Indiana five minutes into the first quarter, Duren’s first possession ended with him grabbing an offensive rebound and bounding back up in a blink to throw down a dunk.

Duren had 16 of those in the first three games, lapping the rest of the NBA, and was dominant against an impressive list of opponents. He averaged 18 points, 15.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while hitting 80 percent of his shots.

Getting that guy back is as important as anything else that can happen for the Pistons as they try to revert to the team they were on track to become with that 2-1 start. Duren had 13 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot off the bench in Friday’s return.

With a busy week ahead, Duren’s return is a most welcome bit of good news for a Pistons team buffeted by hard knocks over the NBA’s first month.


On Dec. 1, 1991 Isiah Thomas hit a free throw in the third quarter to pass Bob Lanier as the Pistons all-time leading scorer with 15,489 points. Lanier had taken the baton from Dave Bing almost exactly 12 years earlier when he scored 23 points in an overtime loss to the Boston Celtics. Thomas scored 22 points at The Palace of Auburn Hills, where he’d led the Pistons to the first two NBA titles in franchise history in 1989 and ’90, in a 94-87 win over the Houston Rockets. His backcourt partner that night, Joe Dumars, would go on to also leapfrog Bing and Lanier to become the franchise’s No. 2 all-time scorer. Thomas finished his career with 18,822 points and Dumars with 16,401. Lanier and Bing remain third and fourth on the list.


Between adjusting to coming off the bench and then overcoming a viral infection that wiped him out and sidelined Jaden Ivey for four games, it’s been a bumpy ride for the second-year guard drafted fifth by the Pistons in 2022. But Ivey, who moved back into the starting lineup when Killian Hayes sat one game with a shoulder injury and stayed put upon Hayes’ return, looked like the player who finished his rookie season on a star’s arc in Friday’s loss at Indiana. He scored a season-high 25 points, hitting 9 of 16 shots, and added three assists, a block and a steal. Monty Williams, who has pushed Ivey to apply his breathtaking athleticism to the defensive end more assertively, also lauded Ivey’s work at the other end after the game. “He’s getting downhill and attacking the basket, not settling when teams go underneath. I thought he had some really good defensive possessions, he and Cade (Cunningham) both.”


Which NBA opponent did the Pistons meet in a playoff game held at Grosse Pointe High School on March 12, 1960?

  1. St. Louis Hawks
  2. Cincinnati Royals
  3. Minneapolis Lakers
  4. New York Knicks

  • MONDAY – The Pistons host the Washington Wizards, who traded Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis over the off-season and have entered a rebuilding period. Washington, which takes the same 2-14 record into the game as the Pistons, is powered by two players with ties to Michigan. Leading scorer Kyle Kuzma (22.9 points per game) grew up in Flint and went to Bentley High before his college days at Utah. On his heels is Jordan Poole (17.7), who played two years at the University of Michigan.


  • WEDNESDAY – LeBron James makes his annual visit to Little Caesars Arena and, a month from his 39th birthday, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. James is averaging 25.5 points through his first 16 games and has the Lakers in the thick of the playoff chase in the tightly bunched Western Conference. Anthony Davis remains a worthy sidekick, averaging 22.1 points and 12.1 rebounds for the Lakers, coached by Saginaw native and ex-Piston Darvin Ham.

       7 PM on BALLY SPORTS DETROIT and WWJ 950 AM

  • THURSDAY – The Pistons travel to New York to play the Knicks in their first meeting of the season. New York, 9-6 to start the week, went 47-35 a season ago to earn the No. 5 seed in the East, beat Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs and lost to eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami in six games of the conference semifinals. Jalen Brunson (24.2 points a game), Julius Randle (19.1) and R.J. Barrett (20.5) lead the Knicks.

       7:30 PM on BALLY SPORTS DETROIT and WWJ 950 AM

  • SATURDAY – The Pistons wrap up a busy week with their fourth game in six nights by hosting Cleveland, which hung on for a 108-100 win over the Pistons when the two met on the Cavaliers court Nov. 17. Cleveland is driven by its All-Star backcourt of Donovan Mitchell, averaging a career-high 28.5 points per game, and Darius Garland, who scored 28 to lead the Cavs in their win over the Pistons earlier this month.



On March 12, 1960, the Pistons – who finished second in the four-team Western Division of the NBA with a 30-45 record – hosted the third-seeded Minneapolis Lakers (25-50) in the first of a best-of-three series. The game had to be played at Grosse Pointe High School when the Pistons’ home at the time, Olympia Stadium, was committed to hosting an Ice Capades show. Future Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor scored 40points to lead Minneapolis to a 113-112 win and the Lakers clinched the series with a 114-99 win the following day on their home court. The Pistons played at Olympia, home of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, for their first four years in Detroit after relocating from Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1957. The Pistons then moved to Cobo Arena, where they would stay until 1978 when owner Bill Davidson moved them to the Pontiac Silverdome.

(Eddie Rivero, Pistons basketball information specialist, contributed to this report.)