The Detroit Pistons fell to the Washington Wizards 103-94 with Michigan native Kyle Kuzma showing out with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting for the Wiz. The Pistons struggled on offense, defense and the boards, and that is a trio that is becoming all too common as this season limps to a conclusion for the NBA-worst Pistons.
Detroit shot just 37% from the floor and 34% from 3. You could only credit a trio of Pistons with having a decent to good game against the Wizards. The clear leader on the floor and in the score sheet was Saddiq Bey who led the team in minutes (38) points (23) free-throw attempts (6-of-7), made 3s (four) and assists (five).
Then there were a couple hustle players off the bench — Hamidou Diallo who corralled six rebounds and scored 10 points in 21 energetic minutes, and new big man Marvin Bagley III who scored 10 points and had eight rebounds in 21 minutes of his own.
We don’t (not) talk about Bagley
Let’s talk a bit more about Bagley because everyone else pretty much stunk up the joint (and Killian Hayes, Kelly Olynyk and Jerami Grant are lucky I’m not delving into their games on this day of love and happiness).
The most important thing you can say about Bagley’s first game as a member of the Pistons is that he played like a big man. Much has been made since the trade about how much time Bagley played alongside a center and how much time he was relegated to a corner hoisting bad 3-point attempts.
In Detroit, he was the first big off the bench, played several minutes as the only big man on the floor and the other minutes in the dunker’s spot or trying to roll to the rim sharing a back court with Olynyk. The only Pistons to get to the line more than Bagley was Bey, though Marvin struggled hitting only 2-of-6. Only one of his 10 shots was outside of 10 feet.
He was rolling to the rim, putting up second-chance opportunities and really just showcasing some big-man skills the Pistons have been desperate for. He didn’t have an amazing game, and his teammates missed some opportunities to feed him some easy offense, but they have 20-plus games to try and build chemistry with each other and figure things out.
He was a nice ingredient to add to this late-season mix and could help in ways the now-departed Trey Lyles simply couldn’t with his more jump-shot and below-the-rim style of play.
The Pistons seemed like they were ready to make a game of it after a Bey triple pulled Detroit within two with 6:19 remaining in the fourth quarter, but true to form, the Pistons could not get any stops on defense.
A Raul Neto layup followed by a Detroit shot-clock violation (an errant Bagley pass out of the short roll led to a Diallo prayer of a shot that didn’t come close to hitting rim as time expired) led to a Deni Avdija 20-footer that pushed the lead to 94-88 with 5:25 remaining.
The Pistons then had a possession with four missed looks and by then the energy bench players (Diallo and Bagley) were subbed out for the starters. But that just led to even worse defense and poorer shot selection.
After that Bey 3 at the 6:19 mark, the Pistons managed to score just two baskets and one of them was a garbage time 3-pointer from Grant with 2.9 seconds left.
The team is just plain bad, the coaching staff can’t seem to draw anything up that makes anything easier for these players, and the effort, energy and focus is starting to wane. It could be an ugly finish to this season for the Pistons.