The Detroit Pistons, for the second game in a row, were down five rotation players. Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder and Frank Jackson were all in street clothes.
Similar to Friday in Boston, the Pistons’ lack of depth proved to be costly in the second half.
Former Pistons Marcus Morris Sr., Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson shined for the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon, leading them to a come-from-behind 106-102 victory at Little Caesars Arena. The Pistons led by as many as 18 points in the first half, but were outscored 67-49 in the second half.
Cade Cunningham nearly logged a triple-double with 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, Jerami Grant tallied 21 points and Marvin Bagley III added 15 points and eight rebounds. Morris led all scorers with 31 points, Kennard scored 16 and Jackson added 15 points and nine assists.
A dagger 3-pointer by Jackson with 1:39 to play in the final period gave the Clippers a 100-96 lead, and Morris added a midrange jumper with 36 seconds left that extended their lead to six and effectively sealed the win. The Pistons had to overcome a short rotation, as coach Dwane Casey stuck with eight players and rode his starters late. Isaiah Livers (nine points, 3-for-4 from 3) was the only bench player to tally more than 17 minutes of action.
Pistons start strong, but former Pistons help Clippers prevail
Putting together 48 minutes of consistent basketball has been a struggle for the Pistons all season. They’ve had strong starts that ended in defeat, and poor starts that ended in triumph following late runs. Unfortunately, Sunday was in the former category for Detroit.
They played one of their best first halves of the season on both ends of the floor, building an 18-point lead midway through the second quarter. The Clippers missed their first 11 3-pointers and shot just 31.7% (13-41) overall and 13.3% (2-15) from behind-the-arc through the first two quarters.
But momentum started to shift in Los Angeles’ favor before halftime. A layup by Amir Coffee with 3:16 to play in the second quarter extended a 10-0 Clippers run that slashed an 18-point Pistons lead to eight. The Clippers went on to control the second half, outscoring the Pistons 31-19 in the third quarter and 36-28 in the fourth.
Kennard found his rhythm in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points and knocking down three 3-pointers in the final period. A 3-pointer from Kennard with 7:55 remaining gave the Clippers the lead for good, 85-83. Jackson added eight points in the fourth quarter, including the dagger 3-pointer with 1:39 remaining.
Injuries force more rotation changes
Sunday was the second straight game with five rotation players in street clothes. Against the Celtics on Friday, Casey leaned on Saben Lee, Isaiah Livers and Jamorko Pickett to fill out the rest of his rotation. They were solid in the first half, but the Celtics went on a game-clinching run at the beginning of the fourth quarter when the three players shared the floor together.
Casey shortened his rotation even more Sunday. Livers and Lee made appearances, but Pickett picked up a “Did Not Play.” Only eight Pistons played against the Clippers, and every starter except Bagley logged at least 34 minutes.
After playing nearly 41 minutes against the Celtics, Cunningham had a high work load once again by tallying 44 minutes. He played 32 minutes in just the first three quarters, and played all but a minute and seven seconds of the second half, including the entire fourth quarter.
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