Omari Sankofa II | Detroit Free Press
Regardless of the size of the deficit, it has been tough to count the Detroit Pistons out of any game this season. They’ve pulled off several upset wins, including against the Los Angeles Lakers less than two weeks ago, and were competitive in most of their losses.
In their second and final game against the Lakers this season, they trailed by 17 points in the third quarter. They ended up forcing two overtimes, outscoring the Lakers 43-26 from the 3:55 mark of the third until the end of the fourth.
The Lakers prevailed.
LeBron James hit a 3-pointer with 33.6 seconds left to clinch a hard-fought 135-129 win for Los Angeles at Staples Center, and send the Pistons to their fourth straight loss.
Despite the outcome, it was one of the best performances of the season for the Pistons (5-18). Detroit finished its Western Conference road trip 0-4, and returns home to play the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 32 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block. Josh Jackson had his best performance of the season with 28 points (11-for-20 shooting, 5-for-10 from 3), eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Delon Wright added a double-double with 22 points (8-for-10, 4-for-4 from 3) and 10 assists, and Mason Plumlee added 15 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.
James led the Lakers (18-6) with 33 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and four steals. He scored 8 points on 3-for-3 shooting in the second overtime. Anthony Davis added 30 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Jackson powers second-half comeback for Pistons
Early in the season, Jackson looked like Detroit’s second-best player. Then an ankle injury cost him two games, and it took him some time to regain his offensive rhythm.
It looks like he has found it. Jackson did the majority of his damage in the second half, and delivered his best in the fourth quarter when the Pistons needed it most. He scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half, including 13 in the fourth, to help the Pistons eliminate a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.
Jackson was electric in the fourth, hitting back-to-back 3s and finding rookie Saben Lee for a layup to cut the deficit to 94-90 at the 8:56 mark of the quarter. His third 3-pointer of the quarter at the 6:17 mark cut the deficit to 98-95 with 6:17 to play. Two minutes later, he attacked Davis on a switch and finished the layup to cut the deficit to 104-100. With 3.1 seconds remaining, he made another layup to tie the game at 106 and force overtime.
Grant has been Detroit’s most reliable scorer this season, but Jackson has proven he can settle in as a secondary scoring option. The Pistons needed it Saturday.
With Derrick Rose on his way out, Wright delivers strong performance
Saturday’s game was initially overshadowed by news that the Pistons are engaged in trade talks to send Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks and reunite him with his former coach, Tom Thibodeau. It coincided with one of Wright’s stronger performances of the season.
Wright made all four of his shots in the first half and had 11 points and six assists at halftime. He didn’t cool off in the second half, and had one of his best games in a Pistons uniform. He was aggressive and in control. The Pistons have urged Wright to be more assertive this season, and could use his scoring punch at the “one” with Rose set to depart.
Sekou Doumbouya underwhelms in first start of season
On the second night of a back-to-back, Blake Griffin rested against the Lakers. Coach Dwane Casey used the opportunity to insert Doumbouya into the starting lineup for the first time this season.
He didn’t make his first field goal until early in the fourth quarter, and finished with four points on 1-for-7 shooting and three rebounds in 24 minutes. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts. It wasn’t the start he wanted, but he should receive additional opportunities to prove himself this season.
Pistons snap streak of cold starts
In their past three games, the Pistons shot a combined 22 of 71 (30.9%) overall and 4 of 25 (16%) from 3. It’s a bad recipe for success when facing the West’s best teams.
The Pistons had a much better start against the Lakers, and it helped them stay within striking distance late in the game, despite Los Angeles leading by 17 points in the third quarter.
It initially looked like the Pistons were in for another slow start. They missed seven of their first 10 shots and trailed 12-5 midway through the first quarter. They finished the period strong, closing with a 13-4 run and making seven of their final 11 shots to shoot 10-for-21 overall in the quarter. They led 29-27 after one.