By the end of the first half, it was clear it would be an upward climb for the Detroit Pistons to pull off a win. Jerami Grant exited the game with 4:30 to play in the first quarter with a left calf strain, and Detroit trailed the Washington Wizards by 16 points at halftime.
Thanks to heroics from Marvin Bagley III and Cade Cunningham, though, the Pistons nearly pulled off a comeback. But Cunningham’s jumper with 14 seconds left fell short, and a potential game-tying 3-pointer from Rodney McGruder at the final buzzer also missed.
The Wizards defeated the Pistons (20-54) at Little Caesars Arena, 100-97. Bagley finished with 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting — his highest tally since the Pistons acquired him at the trade deadline — and Cunningham added 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Cunningham scored 16 points in the second half.
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Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers with 30 points and 10 rebounds, and Tomas Satoransky added 21 points. Frank Jackson returned after missing 16 of Detroit’s past 17 games with a back injury, but had a quiet night with two points on 0-for-6 shooting.
The Pistons were doomed by a poor first half, shooting just 34.8% overall and 3-for-15 from 3. They shot the ball significantly better in the second half, making 46% of their looks, but still missed 14 of 17 3-pointers.
Bagley has career night as a Piston
Since arriving at the trade deadline, Bagley’s presence has been felt. His size, athleticism and touch around the rim gives the roster a dynamic it previously lacked. He has become visibly more comfortable each week, and he’s establishing himself as one of Detroit’s go-to scorers.
Bagley entered Friday’s game averaging 13.9 points on 53.1% overall shooting and 6.9 rebounds in 27 minutes per game as a Piston.
Friday displayed the multitude of ways he can impact the stat sheet, as he finished a handful of alley-oop passes and thrived as a post scorer. Bagley played the entire fourth quarter as Detroit attempted to complete a 17-point comeback.
Braxton Key makes Pistons debut
The Pistons’ newest signee didn’t have to wait long to play. Braxton Key, who the Pistons signed to a 10-day contract Thursday, checked in Friday with 3:51 to play in the first quarter.
He got off to a slow start, missing his first four shots. But he found a rhythm in the fourth, making a pair of layups during an 18-9 run that tied the game at 88 with 5:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.
This season, Key averaged 18.9 points (47.5% overall shooting, 38.8% from 3), 7.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks in 28.2 minutes per game with the Delaware Blue Coats, the Philadelphia 76ers’ G League affiliate. An Alabama and Virginia alumnus, Key went undrafted in 2020 after averaging 9.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists as a senior. If Grant misses time due to his calf injury, it would pave more playing time for Keys.
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