Detroit — With several of their veteran players out because of injuries, the Pistons had to lean on their young players against the Portland Trail Blazers.
In the first half, it wasn’t working out well.
The Pistons fell behind by double digits before halftime, and the lead ballooned to 23 points in the third quarter.
Then they got things turned around.
The Pistons staged a furious rally in the fourth quarter but fell short, and the Blazers took the win, 119-115, on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Saddiq Bey finished with 25 points and six rebounds, Cade Cunningham 25 points and seven assists and Killian Hayes ignited in the second half with 12 points and six assists for the Pistons (19-53).
Jerami Grant (knee inflammation), Cory Joseph (rest) and Kelly Olynyk (ankle) were among the veterans who were out, leaving things to the young guys.
The Pistons’ 19 turnovers led to 30 Portland points, which was the story of the game.
“Those casual turnovers will bite you every time,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Any time you give up 19 turnovers for 30 points in a four-point game, it’s self-explanatory.”
The Pistons had an 11-2 run to finish the third quarter, cutting the lead to 96-88. Saben Lee hit a pair of free throws and Hayes scored a basket to get within four. After a Blazers free throw, Lee scored on a drive and Luka Garza (11 points) got a lay-in, and the deficit was down to 97-96 at the 9:32 mark.
The Blazers (27-44) held on with a dunk and a lay-in from Trendon Watford to get the lead back to five, but the Pistons answered with a 3-pointer from Isaiah Livers and a steal and dunk from Hayes to tie it at 101 with 7:10 left.
The Pistons later tied it on a 3-pointer by Bey and moved ahead after Garza split a pair of free throws. Though the Pistons stayed close, they couldn’t hold the lead, and the Blazers moved ahead behind Brandon Williams (23 points and six rebounds), who had six points in the final four minutes.
The Pistons only managed three field goals in the final stretch, with a pair of baskets by Marvin Bagley III (15 points and nine rebounds) and a long 3-point heave at the buzzer by Cunningham.
“We didn’t come out with the right type of energy; we let them get comfortable,” Garza said. “We didn’t disrupt that at all and that set the tone.”
The uphill battle started in the first quarter, after a 13-0 Blazers run, with a pair of baskets each Williams and Drew Eubanks, and the Pistons fell into a 19-9 hole. The Pistons scored five straight points, finishing with a Cunningham drive.
That was the last field goal of the quarter for the Pistons, who scored just eight free throws for the rest of the period.
Portland kept the pressure on in the second quarter, but Cunningham got going, with three straight Pistons baskets midway through the period. Bey added a 3-pointer and Cunningham hit a free throw and another basket, getting the Pistons within 53-40 at the 4:20 mark.
That started a 9-3 run that cut the lead to 10, but the Blazers had a 67-52 lead at halftime.
The Blazers extended the lead to 79-56 on a 3-pointer and a three-point play by CJ Elleby, but Bey responded with back-to-back 3-pointers. Hayes got going in the third quarter, with eight points, getting the Pistons within 96-88 entering the final period.