Late heroics by Cade Cunningham can’t save Detroit Pistons vs. Wizards in OT, 119-116

Detroit Free Press

It appeared the Detroit Pistons were heading toward their second-straight collapse on Wednesday night. A late run — and an impressive overtime performance by Cade Cunningham — nearly helped the Pistons snap a nine-game losing streak.

But the final moment belonged to Wizards forward and Flint native Kyle Kuzma, who knocked down a game-winning 3 with 0.6 seconds left in overtime dropped the Pistons, 119-116 at Little Caesars Arena, for their 10th straight loss.

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Cunningham, who was cold through the first four quarters, scored eight points in overtime, using a series of acrobatic moves to repeatedly get to the rim and finish over multiple defenders. The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft finished with 21 points on 8-for-20 shooting.

Jerami Grant continued his run of strong performances with 28 points, making 14 of 15 free-throw attempts. Entering Wednesday, Grant averaged 24 points on 46% overall shooting, 38% from 3 and 92% at the line, 6.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a block.

Frank Jackson (19 points, 6-for-9 overall, 5-for-7 from 3) and Hamidou Diallo (12 points) both played the entire fourth quarter and all of overtime and delivered key performances off of the bench.

Kuzma scored 26 points for Washington, and former Piston Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13. Bradley Beal added 25 points.

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The Pistons used a 22-4 run to take a 14-point lead in the second quarter, but the Wizards bounced back in the second half. Detroit was outscored 37-26 in the third quarter, and Washington used a 17-4 run to take a 103-90 lead midway through the fourth.

But the final run of regulation belonged to Detroit. Jackson knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the night with less than two minutes in the period to cut the deficit to 104-102, and Grant made a pair of free throws with 2.3 seconds left to tie the game at 104 and force overtime.

Pistons have season-best performance at line

A lot of things went wrong for the Pistons during their collapse the Thunder on Monday. One of the biggest weaknesses was their performance at the line. They shot a season-low six free throws, making five, and had zero free throw attempts during the second half as the Thunder came back from an 18-point deficit.

Wednesday was the complete opposite. The Pistons attempted 23 free throws in the first half alone, knocking down 22, and finished the night with season-highs in makes (29) and attempts (35). They had a 23-to-6 free throw attempt advantage over the Wizards at halftime.

Diallo makes face mask debut

A fracture on the right side of Diallo’s face forced him to miss the Pistons’ game against Oklahoma City on Monday. He returned on Wednesday, and became the latest player in Pistons history to don a face mask during a game, in the same fashion as Rip Hamilton years ago.

He delivered one of his best games of the season, shooting 4 of 7 from the field and 2 of 3 from the 3-point line. He closed the fourth quarter and delivered two plays late to help them stay within striking distance. Diallo knocked down a 3 with 5:52 on the clock to cut Detroit’s deficit to 10, and drove and found Stewart for a layup during their next possession to slice it to 103-95.

Frank Jackson erupts off bench

Toward the end of the third quarter, Jackson found a pocket of space behind the 3-point arc, stepped back and calmly knocked down the shot off of the dribble.

It was that type of night for the sharpshooter, who has been cold through the first quarter of the season but had one of his best performances against the Wizards. He was perfect through the first three quarters, scoring 16 points on 5-for-5 overall shooting, 4-for-4 from 3 and making both of his free-throw attempts. Jackson was key for the Pistons during a second quarter that saw them build a 14-points lead and briefly take control of the game, scoring 10 points during the period.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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