Observations: Pistons’ Wayne Ellington laying claim to shooting guard spot

Detroit News

Rod Beard
 
| The Detroit News

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The Pistons came up short against the Houston Rockets, but their rally from a 20-point deficit is something they can take some solace in, especially the way things have gone for them this season. 

They had a slow start in the first half and had a very solid third quarter, in which they outscored the Rockets, 34-22, but they couldn’t close things out in the fourth quarter, taking a 103-102 loss on Friday night

It’s the third straight loss for the Pistons, in a game that came down to the final seconds and was decided on a late drive by Jerami Grant, who continued his streak of games with 20-plus points to 14 straight.

Here are some takeaways from the Pistons’ loss:

Shooting touch: Wayne Ellington continued his inspired play with another strong performance from the 3-point line, going 6-of-10. In the three games, he was a combined 14-of-25 from beyond the arc and he’s rounding into a nice form. Casey had applauded what Ellington has been able to do from a professionalism standpoint, but he’s also showing it on the court. It’s going to be hard for one of the younger players to take the starting spot from him with the way he’s playing. It’s eating up some of the development minutes, but he’s having the best production of any of the shooting guards.

Jackson driving: Since coming back from his ankle injury, Josh Jackson hasn’t quite been the same offensively. In the previous six games, he hasn’t had the same energy and hasn’t found a good rhythm. Early in the season, Jackson was most effective when he was a dual threat as a driver and a perimeter shooter. He found some of that mojo Friday, getting to the free-throw line nine times and was

Twenty the hard way: Jerami Grant’s streak of 13 games of scoring 20-plus points was in jeopardy for much of the game, in one of his worst shooting games this season. Grant didn’t make a field goal in the first half and didn’t get one to fall until midway through the third quarter. Although he wasn’t shooting well, he got to the free-throw line enough to make up for it. Grant usually makes his impact inside the arc, but his two made field goals were 3-pointers, while he was 0-for-10 on 2-pointers until late in the game, when he got to the rim. He made his next shot, a 3-pointer, and got to 21 points, extending his streak.

Stewart matchup: In the first quarter, Mason Plumlee got two fouls in the first four minutes and had to sit, which mean more minutes for rookie Isaiah Stewart. He didn’t disappoint, with 13 minutes in the first half — most of them against the Rockets’ DeMarcus Cousins — and some good stretches on both ends of the court. On the first defensive possession, Stewart stifled Cousins in the paint and throughout the half, they had a couple of run-ins, with Stewart holding his own. It was a big opportunity against a versatile center like Cousins, who is as effective from the perimeter as he is in the paint. Cousins had five points and 10 rebounds in the first half, while Stewart posted two points and six rebounds.

Wright stuff: Delon Wright isn’t known for his scoring, but he had a hot start in the first half, with 11 of his 18 points. He hit three of the Pistons’ first four field goals, when they were in a cold spell and got off to a slow start and fell into a 16-5 hole in the first five minutes. He hasn’t been their biggest offensive option this year, with only three games in double figures, but when he’s needed, he can be effective. Casey wanted Wright as an option at either guard position and with Killian Hayes’ injury, he has stepped into the starting lineup as a distributor and has done fairly well there. Wright started the third quarter with a 3-pointer as well and neared his season high of 19 points in the second half.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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