Detroit — As soon as Hamidou Diallo enters the game for the Pistons, it’s almost like a seismic shift occurs.
The energy Diallo plays with becomes contagious and it carries over to his teammates, no matter who is on the floor at that time.
Diallo totaled 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench in Detroit’s 123-111 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. It was his second time this season with that statline after reaching those minimums against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 31.
Despite the loss, Diallo has been an integral part of coach Dwane Casey’s rotation over his last nine games.
“One thing Hami has done, he’s come in and changed the game for us,” Casey said. “He brings an energy that’s contagious. He speeds the game up when we’re kind of in a fog or playing in mud, so to speak.”
“Not perfect, but you know what you’re going to get from Hami,” Casey said. “He comes in and changes the game. His hustle plays — we don’t encourage going back and stabbing for the ball in the backcourt, but he usually gets one of those a game.
Diallo was a regular in the Pistons’ rotation until he picked up seven DNPs (did not play — coaches decision) in December. Kevin Knox, Diallo’s college teammate at Kentucky in 2017-18, received the bulk of those minutes while Isaiah Livers recovered from a shoulder injury, but now the tables have turned.
Diallo is averaging 10.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 69.2% from the field (18-of-26) and 100% from the 3-point line (2-of-2) since the calendar turned over to the new year.
After a hazy start to his fifth NBA season, Diallo is aware of his role and what is needed in order to earn minutes on the floor.
“You could say five games ago, I wasn’t even in the rotation,” Diallo said after the win over Minnesota. “It’s just a wild year. It’s a different team and it’s a different feel. I just gotta make sure that I stay ready and play whatever role the team needs me to. Of course, as a competitor I know I should be out there and I know I want to play but sometimes things don’t work in that way. You just gotta stay with the team and stay locked in.
“And now things come around and I’ve shown why I should be out there. Just keep playing. Keep playing hard and keep getting after it, just keep trying to leave my fingerprints on this team as much as I can and leave it out there.”
When asked how he was able to persevere through his brief stint out of the rotation, Diallo said he remained in the gym and worked on his game.
He knew his time would come.
“I’ve been through a lot in this league so nothing’s going to faze me at this point,” Diallo said. “I feel like I know who I am as a player and I feel like I know what I bring to the table. I just have to stay with it, stay confident and stay in the gym. That’s the most thing that keeps me level-headed.”
No Slam Dunk contest
As electrifying as Jaden Ivey and Diallo are above the rim, don’t expect to see either of them competing in the NBA’s annual showcase of athleticism and high-flying dunks.
Ivey and Diallo both told The Detroit News after Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers that they won’t be participating in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, slated for Feb. 18 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ivey said he hasn’t been invited, but wouldn’t participate anyway because he’s trying to preserve his legs. The explosive rookie guard missed three games in November due to right knee soreness.
Diallo, who won the contest in 2019 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, said he’s been invited to defend his throne “every year” since but has declined the offer.
Both players are two of the most athletic players on the Pistons’ young roster, along with rookie center Jalen Duren.
Ivey’s most electric dunk occurred against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 18 when he threw down a one-handed poster dunk over Yuta Watanabe.
Despite being nearly four years removed from his title as Slam Dunk Contest champion, Diallo maintains his bounce and has thrown down several dunks this season.
Ivey may not have interest in competing in the Slam Dunk Contest but as one of the top rookies in the league, he (along with Duren) is almost certain to receive an invitation to the annual Rising Stars Game, which features the league’s top rookies and sophomores.
Burks’ foul upgraded
The NBA announced Monday that a personal foul committed by Pistons guard Alec Burks, who fouled Tre Jones with 40 seconds remaining in Friday’s loss to Tre Jones, has been upgraded to a Flagrant 1 upon league review.
With 40 seconds left in the game, Jones drove past Burks to attempt a shot. Burks then pulled Jones down by grabbing his left arm. After the play, Burks raised his hand to acknowledge that he fouled Jones.
The play was initially ruled a common foul, but the league revisited the foul and upgraded it to a Flagrant 1, which is is defined as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” In those situations, the opposing team is awarded two free throws and possession of the ball.
As a result, the flagrant 1 foul is added to Burks’ total, which now stands at three and accounts for three points. Pistons forward Isaiah Livers is not far behind Burks with two flagrant 1 fouls, equaling two points. Ivey is on the books for one flagrant 1 foul, totaling one point.
If a player’s season total exceeds five points, he will receive an automatic suspension following the game in which his point total exceeds the five-point threshold and for each additional flagrant foul committed during that season, as follows:
- Player at four points commits a Flagrant 2 foul: automatic one-game suspension
- Player at five or six points commits a Flagrant 1 foul: automatic one-game suspension
- Player at five or six points commits a Flagrant 2 foul: automatic two-game suspension
- Player at seven points or more commits a Flagrant 1 or 2 foul: automatic two-game suspension
Bogdanovic to miss 76ers game
The Pistons will be without their leading scorer for Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bojan Bogdanovic is listed as out for the Pistons’ one-game trip to Philadelphia due to left calf soreness. It is unclear when the injury occurred, but Bogdanovic finished with 20 points and five assists in Sunday’s loss to the Sixers.
Bogdanovic is averaging a career-high 21 points per game and shooting 41% from the three-point line in his first season with the Pistons.
Pistons rookie center Jalen Duren, who missed Sunday’s game due to right ankle soreness, will also be sidelined.
Despite more bodies piling up on the Pistons’ injury report, Isaiah Livers (right shoulder soreness) was upgraded to questionable. The second-year forward has missed the last 19 games after suffering a shoulder injury against the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 1.
Without Duren in the lineup, Saddiq Bey was re-inserted into the starting lineup. Now that Bogdanovic is going to be sidelined, Pistons coach Dwane Casey could look to Alec Burks to fill the scoring load with the first unit.
Pistons at 76ers
▶ Tipoff: 7 Tuesday, Wells Fargo Arena, Philadelphia
▶ TV/radio: BSD+/950AM
▶ Outlook: The Pistons look to snap a two-game losing streak on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. The 76ers are 16-2 against the Pistons in the last six seasons (since 2017-18). It’s the first game of a back-to-back that concludes on Wednesday when the Minnesota Timberwolves visit Little Caesars Arena.