Pistons end disappointing road trip with 114-103 loss against Grizzlies

Detroit News

Memphis, Tenn. – The Pistons entered Friday’s primetime matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies as losers of six of the last seven meetings.

It was a prime opportunity to get over the hump against one of the most talented teams in the Western Conference.

However, that dismal trend continued as Detroit was overwhelmingly defeated in the final game of their three-game road trip, a 114-103 loss to Memphis at FedExForum.

Detroit (7-21) trailed by as many as 22 points, but pulled within 11 with just a minute remaining but it was too little, too late as they suffered their second loss to the Grizzlies (17-9) this week.

“It was our starts,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said after the game. “The start of the first quarter and the start of the third quarter. We gave up a 37-point third quarter, not coming out with the right disposition, knowing they’re an excellent third quarter team. Our two guards, we’ve got to handle the ball better against pressure.”

The Grizzlies’ offensive load was well-balanced throughout the night as six different players scored in double figures, led by Ja Morant’s double-double of 15 points, six rebounds and 12 assists. The All-Star guard didn’t have a 21-point explosion in the third quarter like he did on Sunday, but Morant was still effective in finding his teammates for open looks.

“I thought we did collectively a good job on Morant,” Casey said. “He’s a great player, but we hurt ourselves by turning the ball over eight times in the third quarter.”

Former Michigan State star Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis in scoring with 20 points on an efficient 8-of-12 from the field. He hurt Detroit from the perimeter with his 3-point shooting, making 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Dillon Brooks added 16 points and four assists. Brandon Clarke had 17 points and seven rebounds. Tyus Jones had 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

BOX SCORE: Grizzlies 103, Pistons 103

Casey opted to match size with size to begin the game, as he started rookie Jalen Duren to combat the physical nature of Grizzlies big man Steven Adams. It was the 19-year-old’s  first start of his career, inside the building he made a name for himself while playing his lone season of college basketball at Memphis.

Duren played well despite the lopsided result, finishing with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds on 5-of-7 from the field. He displayed a bit of versatility on Friday. There was his usual output of offensive rebounds that led to powerful dunks, but he also showed he was capable of knocking down a mid-range jumper early in the first quarter.

After a quick ejection in the third quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Bojan Bogdanovic rebounded with a team-high 19 points and four rebounds.

With the insertion of Duren into the starting lineup, Marvin Bagley III was moved to the second unit and it resulted in his best performance in a little over a week. He played sound defense with his contests, blocked shots and took advantage of his matchup, specifically against Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and four rejections off the bench.

Detroit struggled to take care of the ball throughout the game. That sloppy play resulted in 19 turnovers, eight of which occurred in the third quarter.

Despite the loss, there were a couple of bright spots for the Pistons. Isaiah Stewart continued his reliable stretch from 3-point range with 3-of-6 from the perimeter. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Kevin Knox had a strong start to the game as he connected on his first four shots, three of which were 3-pointers. He totaled 13 points and four rebounds.

“We turned the ball over and to come out in the second half, we started off with turnovers,” Stewart said. “I think that was the game right there.”

Killian Hayes picked up two fouls within the first two minutes and was sidelined for the rest of the first quarter until the 9:06 mark of the second quarter. His production was limited for the remainder of the game as he totaled five points and five assists on a 2-of-8 shooting night.

The Pistons looked to close their three-game road-trip out on a positive note, but finished with just one win over Miami.

The Pistons will return to Detroit to host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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