| Detroit Free Press
Top 10 NBA title contenders for 2021: Who they added, who they lost
Free Press’ Pistons editor Marlowe Alter looks at 10 NBA title contenders for the 2021 season, examining who they added and lost in the offseason.
Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press
Jerami Grant had a quiet first half, by his recent standards. He had 10 points on just three shots.
He turned up in the second half and overtime, though, to give the Detroit Pistons their second win of the season.
Grant scored eight points in overtime, including a dagger drive to the rim and 3-pointer in the final minute, to help the Pistons complete a 23-point comeback and defeat the surging Phoenix Suns, 110-105, at Little Caesars Arena on Friday. Grant finished with 31 points (10-for-15 overall, 3-for-5 from 3-point range) and 10 rebounds.
The Pistons trailed 23 points in the second quarter, but trimmed the deficit to eight at halftime and kept it close the rest of the way.
After ending the fourth quarter tied at 93, the Pistons opened overtime with a 9-0 run to improve to 2-7.
Blake Griffin had one of his better performances of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Delon Wright had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds starting at point guard in place of the injured Kilian Hayes.
Devin Booker led Phoenix (6-3) with 23 points, and former Piston Langston Galloway scored 17 points in just 12 minutes.
Frank Jackson makes his debut
After Hayes injured his hip Monday, Pistons coach Dwane Casey said he wanted to get a look at his pair of two-way guards, Saben Lee and Frank.
Lee made his NBA debut Wednesday, and Jackson made his first appearance in a Pistons uniform during the second quarter Friday. He tallied three points and an assist in 10 minutes.
Jackson, drafted 31st by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2017 draft, was traded to the Pelicans on draft night and spent his first two seasons in New Orleans. He signed a two-way contract with the Pistons on Dec. 27.
He looked defensively engaged during his brief stretch and made two nice offensive plays — knocking down a 3-pointer, and feeding Jahlil Okafor for a dunk after driving to the rim, and drawing the defense. He was one of the most athletic guards in his draft class, and with Hayes facing a lengthy absence, Jackson may receive more opportunities.
Josh Jackson struggles in return
The Pistons eagerly anticipated Jackson coming back from a sprained ankle, which he suffered against the Boston Celtics on Sunday. After missing two games, he returned and started Friday against the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2017.
Jackson was one of Detroit’s most efficient scorers entering the game, averaging 15.5 points on 49.3% shooting. Friday might’ve been his first off night of the season, as he finished with five points on 2-for-11 shooting.
His struggles weren’t isolated to just him. The Pistons largely struggled to score outside of Grant, Wright and Griffin, but were excellent with free throw shooting and frequency in getting to the line (25-for-29).
Jackson will get another opportunity to face his former team this season, when the Pistons play Phoenix on Feb. 5.
Galloway gets his revenge game
During his three seasons with the Pistons from 2017-20, Galloway was one of Detroit’s steadiest presences off of the bench with his shooting and defense. He signed with the Suns this offseason, and Casey said on the first day of training camp he wished Galloway could have re-signed.
Galloway might’ve circled this game on the calendar, because he erupted in the second quarter to help the Suns take their big lead. In less than six minutes in the quarter, he scored 17 points and made all six shots, five 3s. He played fewer than four minutes in the second half and didn’t score.