No one could have anticipated that a Detroit Pistons defeat to the mighty Los Angeles Clippers would be categorized as a bad loss. This one wound up being a really bad loss.
Facing a depleted Clippers lineup, the Pistons squandered an 11-point lead in the final 5 minutes and a five-point lead in the final minute of a 100-98 loss on Wednesday.
Ex-Piston Reggie Jackson provided the dagger, firing in a 20-foot jumper over rookie Killian Hayes with 2.8 seconds left to complete the Clippers’ unlikely comeback. Hayes missed a 3-point try at the buzzer.
Jackson finished with a game-high 29 points in his return to Little Caesars Arena.
Jerami Grant, who had missed the previous three games due to right knee soreness, led Detroit with 28 points. Saddiq Bey tossed in 17 points for the Pistons, who lost to the Clippers 131-124 in Los Angeles on Sunday. But Bey also committed a crucial turnover on an inbounds pass in the final minute.
The Clippers were lacking their two perennial All-Stars. Kawhi Leonard missed his third consecutive game due to a sore foot, while Paul George was rested after scoring 36 points against Indiana on Tuesday.
George had 32 points in the first meeting between the teams.
Grant takes the short route
Grant did all of his damage at the rim and the midrange during the opening half. He made six field goals in the first quarter, all within 15 feet of the basket. His lone second quarter bucket was a fadeaway jumper.
Grant made his first 3-pointer in four attempts in the first minute of the second half. He returned to attack mode during his 12-point quarter, with seven of his points coming at the free throw line.
His first and only points in the fourth quarter came on a 10-foot jumper that gave Detroit a 93-82 lead.
Then the collapse began.
Deep shots take a deep dive
In the first meeting, both teams lit it up from long range. The Pistons made 15 of 36 3-point attempts, while the Clippers went 15-for-32 from distance.
The rematch was more of a chuck and duck situation. Hayes and Frank Jackson air-balled 3-point tries on back-to-back second quarter possessions. The teams shot a combined 7-for-28 beyond the arc before halftime, with only Bey (3-for-5) having any success.
The ugliness carried into the third quarter with only two long-range shots finding the target.
Frank Jackson air-balled another 3-point attempt from the corner with four minutes left. Overall, the Pistons were 7 of 24 (29%) on 3-point tries, while the Clippers made just 7 of 29 (24%).
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Familiar faces return to Detroit
If the teams had swapped benches, no one would have batted an eyelash. The Clippers started the former Pistons backcourt of Jackson and Luke Kennard. Forward Marcus Morris Sr., who scored 33 points against the Pistons on Sunday, was a late scratch as coach Tyronn Lue decided to rest him.
Among the assistant coaches on the Clippers’ bench were 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups and two ex-Detroit assistants, Larry Drew and Brendan O’Connor.
Kennard was also playing at Little Caesars Arena for the first time since the Pistons cut ties with them. Jackson had his contract bought out last season, while Kennard was dealt in a multi-team swap that allowed the Pistons to draft Bey.
Jackson converted an array of floaters, running hooks and pullups and also hit a key 3-pointer prior to his game winner.
Kennard missed his first five field-goal attempts. He finished with 17 points on 5 of 17 shooting.