Bojan Bogdanovic scores 38 but loss to Lakers stretches Pistons skid to three

Detroit News

Detroit — After trailing by 14, the Pistons found themselves trailing the Los Angeles Lakers by one point entering the fourth quarter thanks to a 25-point third-quarter explosion by Bojan Bogdanovic.

The veteran forward did all of the heavy lifting for the Pistons to combat the star-studded duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who combined for 69 points. However, it wasn’t enough as the Lakers left Little Caesars Arena with a 124-117 win over Detroit on Sunday.

Bogdanovic scored a layup with 35 seconds left to bring Detroit within two points, which was made possible by two offensive rebounds by Jalen Duren. However, James found Austin Reaves in the corner for a 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a five-point lead with 12.4 seconds left — the shot that buried the Pistons for good.

“It stings a little bit just because there are things we have to continue to grow with and things we can control,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. “You’re not going to control some of the shots they made. They’re a 28% three-point shooting team. Tonight they shot 42% (on 3-pointers). Sometimes you can’t control that, but you can control back cuts, not boxing out, understanding switching, understanding rotations, and all those things in the heat of the game.”

It was Detroit’s third consecutive loss, which dropped the team to 7-22. The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Lakers (11-15).

James, who finished with a team-high 35 points, closed the game by scoring 13 in the fourth quarter. Aside from the victory-sealing assist, James consistently attacked the basket and got to the free-throw line. He was able to convert on all three of his shots from the stripe in the final 12 minutes.

BOX SCORE: Lakers 124, Pistons 117

Davis continued his MVP-level play with a dominant performance of 34 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Detroit doubled Davis on several possessions, but he converted on most of those or found his teammates for open shots. He also made 10 of his 12 free throws.

Bogdanovic matched James’ and Davis’ starpower with an impressive shooting performance of his own. Detroit’s leading scorer tallied a season-high 38 points and made 12-of-22 shots from the field. Bogdanovic scored 25 in the third quarter, one short of the Pistons’ all-time record for most points in a quarter, held by Will Bynum (2009) and Reggie Jackson (2015).

“We’re close,” Bogdanovic said. “It’s always better to win to grow, but playing these close games against the best teams in the league shows that we are progressing and getting better. Now it’s time to take one more step and win these close games.”

Jaden Ivey scored 16 but finished 6-of-16 from the field. He has scored in double-digits in 23 of his first 25 career games, which ties Isiah Thomas, Grant Hill and Kelly Tripucka for the most to start a career in franchise history. Ivey also had a highlight block on Dennis Schroder in the first half, which brought life to the crowd inside LCA.

Duren, who started his second consecutive game, tied his career-high with 13 rebounds, which included four offensive boards. Over the last three games, Duren is averaging 8.3 points and 12.7 rebounds. He leads all rookies with 189 rebounds.

Saddiq Bey had his best 3-point shooting performance of the season with 4-of-6 makes. He nailed a 3-pointer to bring the Pistons within two points, but Lakers guard Austin Reaves countered with his own 3-pointer to extend the Lakers’ lead to five. He finished with 14 points.

Lonnie Walker IV was the Lakers’ X-factor, finishing with 18 points to complement Davis and James. He connected on seven of his 10 shots and affected the game primarily from the perimeter. Walker made 4-of-6 from the 3-point line.

Sunday also marked James’ first appearance in Detroit since last season’s altercation with Isaiah Stewart, which resulted in suspensions for both players. The two were matched against each other on the first possession of the game and the crowd inside Little Caesars Arena roared as James posted Stewart up before settling for a fadeaway jumper, which barely grazed the rim.

After a slow first quarter, James found his offensive rhythm in the second quarter, when he scored 12 of his team-high 35. James knocked down contested jumpers and he had a couple of easy dunks, thanks to assists from Russell Westbrook. Despite the many boos aimed his way, James received just as many cheers each time he scored, likely from the bevy of fans wearing his jersey.

Westbrook came off the bench and made an impact with his playmaking. The All-Star guard tallied eight of his nine assists in the first half. He also added 11 points and four rebounds.

An injury held Stewart out of the Pistons’ first meeting against the Lakers in Los Angeles, a 128-121 loss, but he was available on Sunday. He finished with eight points and five rebounds.

Sunday’s game was full of celebrity appearances, including Detroit native Jalen Rose, hip-hop legend Flavor Flav and Lions rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez.

The Pistons will look to rebound from their three-game losing streak on Wednesday in a road matchup against the Charlotte Hornets.

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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