After playing what might’ve been their worst game of the season in a blowout loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday, the Detroit Pistons bounced back in a big way on Monday.
The Pistons (15-35) beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, 132-108, thanks to a handful of strong performances up and down the roster. Jerami Grant led all scorers with 21 points, five assists and five rebounds, Josh Jackson and Sekou Doumbouya scored 14 each and Isaiah Stewart tallied 12 points, six rebounds, and four blocks in his second start of the season.
During his second game back after returning from a hip injury, Killian Hayes also delivered his best performance of his rookie season with nine points, seven assists, four steals and two blocks.
Hayes looks more comfortable
In just his second game back since a three-month absence, Hayes showed that he could be the best passer and defender of all of Detroit’s point guards. He passes teammates open and has the size and defensive instincts to handle a variety of matchups.
Hayes continued to make great reads with the ball in his hands and play feisty defense, but his growing comfort as a scorer is a great development for himself and the Pistons. He knocked down two floaters, a 3-pointer and finished a shifty layup coming off of a hand-off from Tyler Cook.
Hayes was fairly conservative looking for his own shot until late in the game, but he eventually found a groove. He scored all nine of his points, going 4-for-6 from the field, in the second half. He punished the Thunder’s defense for leaving him wide-open for his first two buckets in the third quarter, a floater and 3-pointer. He then took four shots in the fourth quarter — not a large shot total, but a notable total for him.
While the Pistons’ lottery pick in last year’s draft still has strides to make as a scorer, his defense and passing appear to be ahead-of-the-curve at this stage in his career.
Doumbouya delivers season-best performance
With Mason Plumlee resting, Doumbouya played significant minutes after missing four consecutive games. His 14 points were a season-high, and he also played his best defensive game of the season.
He certainly made the most of his opportunity, bodying defenders at the rim to complete a couple of tough finishes and making two of his six 3-point attempts. It was a long time coming for Doumbouya, who has struggled to make an impact in his second season. He could be in line for a larger role if he builds off of this performance and continues to use his strength to make plays on both ends of the floor.
A day of rest
Monday was the first game of a five-game road trip for the Pistons, and they opted to rest two of their veterans, Plumlee and Wayne Ellington, before facing Denver on Tuesday.
More rests could come for some of the other veterans on the roster, Casey said before the game. The Pistons have more back-to-backs upcoming, including against the Trail Blazers and Clippers this Saturday and Sunday, and the goal is to keep everyone healthy going into the offseason.
“Our goal is to go into the summer and make sure we’re 100% healthy to get the summer working as far as the summer goes, because that’s going to be a very important part of our program, and having the older players ready to roll,” Casey said. “At that time it’s going to be important. If there’s a time or place where we see a fatigue factor setting in with some of our younger guys, which I don’t foresee, but again you never know.”
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