Pistons fall flat in last game of homestand, lose 122-112 to Grizzlies

Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons were no match for the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night at Little Caesars Arena.

Led by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies dealt the Pistons a 122-112 loss in the final game of their four-game homestand.

Morant began the game as a facilitator, but called his own number in the second half by scoring 21 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter. He also tallied 10 assists and five rebounds.

The All-Star guard is known for his explosiveness and highlight-worthy plays, and there was no shortage of them against Detroit.

More:BOX SCORE: Grizzlies 122, Pistons 112

Early in the third quarter, Morant dribbled past Killian Hayes and threw down a vicious one-handed tomahawk slam to give the Grizzlies an 18-point lead. Later in the quarter, Morant caught threw down an alley-oop slam in which he was eye level with the rim.

Jackson complemented Morant’s dominance with 22 points. The Grizzlies connected on 15-of-35 from the 3-point line.

Detroit falls to 6-19. Memphis improves to 14-9.

“The hardest thing to do now in this league is to be consistent and learn how to win consistently,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Each game has a different look for defense, offense, spacing, sharing the ball, and making the right play at the right time. To do that consistently you have to be locked in, understand the moment, and that’s what we’re still learning how to do. It starts with our first unit, which was atrocious. We have to make sure we come out with the right focus.”

The Pistons trailed by 18 entering the fourth quarter, but made a last ditch effort to pull within nine points with a little over a minute remaining. Jaden Ivey had a chance to make the game slightly interesting by cutting the deficit to seven, but Morant soared for a chasedown block to secure the win.

Detroit nearly overcame a 19-point first-half deficit, but couldn’t slow down the hot hand of Dillon Brooks. The 6-foot-6 forward scored 22 points, mainly due to his efficient night from the perimeter. He made five of his first six attempts from beyond the arc.

The Pistons were led by Saddiq Bey, who scored a team-high 24 points off the bench. Before the game, Pistons coach Dwane Casey said he sees Bey as a starter, but his skill set is best used in the second unit. Bey spent most of his time driving to the basket. He got to the line 12 times and made a team-high nine free throws.

After the game, Bey attributed the Pistons’ slow start to a lack of mental focus.

“We have to come into the game, all four quarters, keeping that mental focus,” Bey said. “We can’t ride highs of games or wins. Each and every possession, each and every day is a new day. I think we have to reel back in each and every game like it’s our last. We want to carry the momentum from winning streaks, but we have to focus and be present and say, ‘today we have to win the game, take one possession at a time and see what happens at the end of the game.’ That’s how we have to approach every day, with a growth mindset.”

Killian Hayes, who buried back-to-back 3-pointers to propel the Pistons past Dallas on Thursday, finished with 13 points and six assists.

Detroit was without Isaiah Livers due to a right shoulder strain, so Jaden Ivey returned to the starting lineup. The rookie guard finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Detroit entered the game leading the NBA in free-throw attempts (26.8) and makes (20.7). They got to the stripe often on Sunday as well. The Pistons made 25-of-30 from the free throw line. Eight of those free throws were from Bojan Bogdanovic, who finished with 18 points on Sunday.

On the other side, the Grizzlies were also regulars at the stripe, finishing 21-of-29 from the free-throw line.

The Grizzlies were without veteran center Steven Adams due to hip soreness, but they still managed to win the rebounding battle, 46-39.

The game got out of hand quickly. Memphis began the game on a 7-0 run, prompting a timeout by Pistons coach Dwane Casey. After the timeout, Jaden Ivey found Marvin Bagley III inside for an easy layup, but the Grizzlies continued to knock down perimeter shots.

The Pistons and Grizzlies met in the preseason, and the Grizzlies claimed a 126-111 victory. Morant scored 31 points in that game.

Detroit will look to rebound with a three-game road trip over the next week, starting with a Tuesday matchup against the Miami Heat.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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