New Orleans — The Pistons, searching for some consistency, faced off against one of the best teams in the NBA on Wednesday night.
The New Orleans Pelicans, led by the quick and high-flying Zion Williamson, stood in the way of Detroit’s second win in as many days.
In what was a physical game from the opening tip, the Pistons started the game well but quickly became outmatched and overpowered by the Pelicans’ physical intensity and depth. However, despite trailing by as many as 16 points, Detroit strung together several runs to make the game close in waning moments of the fourth quarter.
Detroit pulled within three points with three minutes left thanks to a 3-pointer by Killian Hayes, who opened up the possibility of stealing a win over the second-best team in the Western Conference. The Pistons had a chance to bring the game within one possession with 54 seconds left, but Hayes threw an errant pass to Saddiq Bey and the ball went out of bounds.
Detroit fell 104-98 to New Orleans to drop to 7-20 on the season. The Pelicans improved to 16-8.
Williamson led the Pelicans to the victory by using his strength and ability to get to the basket for layups and easy dunks. He totaled a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. There were several occasions when the four-year forward looked like a man amongst boys.
He began to impose his will inside the paint after the first timeout of the game. He used his quickness to spin off several defenders for layups in the first quarter. Isaiah Stewart, who totaled 10 points and four rebounds, traded baskets with Williamson during this time. However, the Pistons forward couldn’t contain Williamson and ended up with four fouls trying to guard him.
Williamson’s many highlights included a converted layup after a foul despite being wrapped up by Cory Joseph. Nearly after every made field goal, Williamson would flex his biceps or signal the Pistons were “too small” to contain him.
Saddiq Bey led the Pistons with 25 points and four rebounds off the bench. He regained his rhythm from the 3-point line, making 5-of-9 from distance. Killian Hayes added 17 points, 11 assists and six rebounds on 8-of-17 from the field. Alec Burks had 14 and two assists.
Down by 16 early in the third quarter, the Pistons lost their best shooter in Bojan Bogdanovic, who dropped 31 points in Tuesday’s win over Miami. The eight-year veteran was assessed two technical fouls at the 9:13 mark of the after saying something to an officials after a non-call.
With those two technical fouls, Bogdanovic is currently tied with Draymond Green and Dillon Brooks for second in the NBA with seven this season. Kevin Durant leads the league with eight technical fouls. Bogdanovic struggled from the field, finishing with five points and three rebounds on 1-of-8 from the field.
Jose Alvarado, who totaled a career-high of 38 against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, was limited on Tuesday. He suffered a lower-body injury late in the third quarter when he took a shot to the ribs. He did not return to the game following the play, finishing with two points.
The Pistons will finish their brief three-game road trip on Friday in a rematch against the Memphis Grizzlies, who beat Detroit 122-112 on Sunday.