In a season full of impressive tanking by the Detroit Pistons, tonight’s loss takes the cake.
Down 11 points with under five minutes left, the LA Clippers went on an 18-5 run to win the game 100-98, aided by a former resident of Little Caesars Arena.
Pistons fans surely remember Reggie Jackson’s proclivity for late-game antics, and tonight was one to add to his legacy.
Jackson scored 10 of those 18 Clippers points to close the game, including the last five and a game-winner. First, Reggie nailed a long distance look with 19 seconds left to knot things up. Then Saddiq Bey turned the ball over on his inbound attempt.
Jackson took the ball after a timeout and calmly and smoothly knocked down a mid-range jumper to take the lead and put a bow on his 29 point game. Jackson finished with a game-high 29 points.
A last-second Killian Hayes three missed as time expired and the Pistons aided their tank on a night that saw the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers win.
But that rookie who missed the final shot was in there for a reason.
After a strong first-half stint, Killian led the second-half Detroit surge to build the lead and was rewarded by Dwane Casey with the chance to finish a close game. Hayes missed a few shots down the stretch but that by no means tells the story of his game.
Hayes finished the game with only eight points but he did that in a variety of ways and shot fine from the floor until a couple forced looks in the waning moments.
The major story of the game came when Killian was finding his teammates. His passing was terrific. It often is. But tonight he felt more in control of his game than ever.
Hayes scored a couple times in the pick-and-roll and made several high-level passes in those situations as well. His confidence in making those decisions was at an all-time high for his young career. That came in his most extensive minutes since his return as the clear lead ball-handler. Dwane Casey also paired him with smaller lineups that gave him more operate to room and simplified a lot of his decisions.
While Killian’s strong play was undoubtedly the biggest development for Detroit, Jerami Grant’s great night was a clear second.
Coming off significant rest, Grant looked like his early-season self on his way to 28 points. He got downhill and was a menace when doing so. A Clippers team without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George simply had no answer for him attacking the basket. He settled too easily for a handful of jumpers, but it was nice to see more of the Jerami Grant that so endeared himself to Pistons fans early in the season.
- If you go back and watch Killian’s performance, make sure you watch him defend off the ball. His positioning and awareness were textbook and a fun thing to focus on when you’re not watching the ball.
- With Detroit going smaller around Killian, Sekou Doumbouya failed to see the floor. It would be nice to see Isaiah Stewart get some minutes with the starters while Sekou takes the small ball center role with Killian.
- Hayes deserves kudos for his strong game, but Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart both rounded out what has to be the best overall night for Troy Weaver’s first round picks all year.