Thanks to Hamidou Diallo, the Detroit Pistons had a chance on Tuesday.
He had a 14-point fourth quarter to keep them within striking distance of the Charlotte Hornets. His final bucket of the night — a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left — cut the deficit to two, 100-98.
The Pistons couldn’t close out the come-from-behind win, though. With the Pistons down two, Killian Hayes split a trip at the line with 9.3 seconds left, and his potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim. But Diallo’s career night was a highlight for the Pistons (19-47) during a 102-99 home loss to the Hornets.
SCOREBOARD WATCHING: Where Pistons are in 2021 NBA draft lottery standings
THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE MYSTERY: Meet Deividas Sirvydis and his goals
Diallo finished with a career-high 35 points to lead all scorers and also grabbed seven rebounds. Sekou Doumbouya had his best game of the year with a season-high 20 points and eight rebounds.
Frank Jackson added 14 points off of the bench, and Hayes dished out seven assists, his 10th-straight game with at least five.
LaMelo Ball, the younger brother of former Pistons training camp invite LiAngelo Ball, led the Hornets with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Hamidou Diallo delivers career night during loss
This past week has been a return to form for Diallo after a cold streak. Entering Tuesday, he had averaged 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in his previous three games while shooting 51.9% and 37.5% from 3. In six games prior to that, he was just 6-for-34 overall and 1-for-5 from 3.
He showed off most of his offensive arsenal on Tuesday, though he didn’t have a thunderous dunk. He’s primarily a slasher, and he scored many of his points on drives to the rim. But he also had his outside jumper going, knocking down three of his six attempts from 3. His third 3, which came midway through the fourth quarter, cut the deficit to 88-85. He proceeded to score the next two buckets for Detroit, both layups.
A fun part of Diallo’s game is that he’s an effective rebounder for a guard. Per Cleaning The Glass, he’s in the 97th and 95th percentiles, respectively, among wing players in offensive and defensive rebounding. He’s consistently a threat to tip in his own misses, as he did midway through the first quarter for his second bucket of the night. He has 24 rebounds in his last three games.
Doumbouya has season-best game
Last week, Dwane Casey said one of his end-of-season goals was to find more minutes for Doumbouya. The second-year forward has often been on the cusp of the rotation this season, partially due to the construction of the roster, but also because he has struggled to consistently take advantage of his opportunities.
Doumbouya has been noticeably better since April, though. His 14-point, five-rebound outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 5 illustrated his biggest offensive strength — aggressively attacking space. He has proven himself to be a capable cutter once he finds his rhythm, and Casey has praised his rim-running.
Tuesday was his best game of the season. Like Diallo, he was aggressive from the opening quarter. Both players finished with nine points in the first, and Doumbouya hit five of his first seven shots. He did most of his scoring at the rim, and his teammates did a good job of consistently giving him opportunities.
His biggest highlight of the night, a fastbreak dunk between two defenders, illustrated that good things happen for Doumbouya when he’s aggressive. He has fumbled similar shot opportunities this season, but Tuesday was one of the most engaged efforts of his career.