Three quick observations from Monday night’s 117-97 win over the Indiana Pacers at Little Caesars Arena
313 DAY INDEED! – It was 313 Day and, yes, it certainly was. The Pistons – who hadn’t led after a first quarter in their previous 17 games – used their highest-scoring first quarter of the season as a springboard to their first win since beating San Antonio in double overtime on Feb. 10. It matched the 20-point win over Orlando on Dec. 28 as the largest margin of victory for the Pistons this season. They led 38-20 after a quarter and expanded their lead to 52-23 with an 11-0 run early in the second quarter. The lead was 31 at one point before Indiana used a 25-12 run to close to within 18 at halftime. The Pacers cut it to 12 within two minutes of the third quarter, but veterans Cory Joseph (22 points, five rebounds, five assists) and Rodney McGruder (18 points, 4 of 5 from the 3-point line) sparked a 13-0 run to restore order and allow the Pistons to snap their 11-game losing streak. After being outrebounded by 16 in Saturday’s loss to Indiana, the Pistons turned it around Monday to win by a 10-rebound margin. Jalen Duren grabbed 11 in his third game back after a six-game injury absence as both he and James Wiseman – the only two big men left with both Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III injured – finished with double-doubles, 18 points and 14 rebounds for Wiseman and 12 points for Duren to go with his 11 boards. The Pistons got strong bench play with three of the four players who played off the bench combining for 49 of their 52 points. R.J. Hampton accounted for 15 and was a perfect 3 for 3 from the 3-point line.
HAYES ON THE REBOUND – Killian Hayes tied his career high with 13 assists in Saturday’s loss to Indiana and he came back with a double-double in the Monday rematch. Dwane Casey cited a desire to get Hayes back on track as one of the abiding quests for the season’s final month and Hayes has shown in some brilliant flashes that he’s on his way to getting that accomplished. Hayes had nine assists at halftime, but only played the first two minutes of the third quarter when Casey inserted Cory Joseph in the lineup to quell an Indiana rally and get the young Pistons settled down. Hayes, who assisted on six of Detroit’s first eight buckets and scored the other two himself, finished with 10 points and 11 assists. Joseph was terrific off the bench in his 32 inutes. He might have hit the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer in the third quarter after the Pacers had pulled within 690-57. Joseph hustled down the rebound of Rodney McGruder’s air ball triple and, with the shot clock about to expire, hit a step-back triple that started a 13-0 run.
MORE OMORUYI – Eugene Omoruyi made it an easy call for the Pistons to offer him a second 10-day contract with his body of work during the first, which expired on Sunday, and he began his second 10-day deal by earning his first Pistons start and contributing 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals to the win. Omoruyi, 26, appeared in five games while playing on the initial 10-day deal and logged 18 minutes a game, averaging 8.2 points and 2.6 rebounds while hitting 46.7 percent of his shots and 3 of 8 triples. “He does a lot of positive things. His intensity, defense, moving his feet – I think he does an excellent job of that. Whether it’s cutting, spacing, defending – all those things – he’s doing a good job. He’s a guy we want to keep an eye on going forward.” The 6-foot-7 forward, thickly built and athletic, spent three years at Rutgers, then sat out a season as a transfer before finishing his college career in 2019-20 at Oregon where he averaged 17.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. He played four games for Dallas last season and 23 for Oklahoma City earlier this season before the Pistons brought him to Detroit earlier this month. In Omoruyi’s first five games, his impact on team defense is captured by the statistics. Even given the small sample size, it seems relevant that the team defensive rating with Omoruyi on the floor is 103.6 compared to 121.5 with him on the bench.