Good teams find ways to win.
Bad teams find ways to lose.
The Detroit Pistons are getting pretty good at the finding ways to lose thing.
For three quarters, they looked like a team ready to pull another one of their weird upsets in Dallas against the Mavericks. The shots were falling, the defense, overall, wasn’t too bad. It was actually a fun game.
Then the fourth quarter happened.
Detroit got sloppy and the Mavericks locked in. Luka Doncic, the do-everything superstar, had his way with Detroit after scoring 53 points and Spencer Dinwiddie helped put his former team away with an array of pull ups and driving layups.
In the end, the Pistons blew an 11-point lead in the 111-105 loss on Monday.
Really, it came down to the final three minutes. With Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes on the bench after fouling out, Detroit was short on ball handlers. Luckily, Bojan Bogdanovic was electric, hitting jumper after jumper to keep them in the game.
Trailing 107-105 with just over a minute to go, Bogdanovic was looking for his 15th point of the quarter when he passed out of a double team to Saddiq Bey. Knowing the clock was ticking down, Bey looked left, then right, before driving at Doncic near the rim.
Rather than take the easy dump off pass to Jalen Duren — which would have led to the easiest dunk of the night for the rookie big man — Bey attempted an acrobatic layup around Doncic… that careened off the bottom of the rim and triggered a Mavericks fast break that, effectively, ended the game.
Bey, to his credit, did admit it was a bad decision after the game.
It wasn’t the sole reason they lost, either. It was just a stupid, selfish play at the end of a winnable game. It was one of those “finding ways to lose” that I mentioned earlier. Just a frustrating end to a game that, even just for a night, would have made you like this team.
The good from tonight: Bogdanovic and Ivey.
Bogey was on his game, hitting 10-of-15 shots for 29 points, which was quite the encore after he hit 10-of-14 shots for 30 points in the Pistons’ win over Dallas in December. His ability to hit shots, mainly those tough, contested ones, is the main reason why he’s a perfect fit next to a guy like Cade Cunningham, who, of course, missed out on playing in his hometown of Dallas for the second time in as many years.
Ivey fouled out early in the fourth, but that was about the only “bad” thing about his night. He was aggressive and smart with the ball, hitting 5-of-8 shots for 14 points while only turning it over twice. I thought he made some REALLY nice passes to Jalen Duren (9 points, 4 rebounds) early in this game and continues to look comfortable out there.
Nobody else really showed much tonight. Killian struggled mightily with his shot, missing 9 of his 10 threes, while Isaiah Stewart was a non-factor, missing a frustrating number of shots around the rim. He’s had to move back to center with the injury to Marvin Bagley III and it’s impacting his game.
It blows my mind that they can’t just throw Nerlens Noel back into the lineup for the next week, allow Stew to play at the four, and then deal Noel on February 9 — but alas.
Bey, beyond his bad decision late, was… fine. He hit five threes and scored 18 points.
It was a basketball game. Luka was unstoppable for most of it, scoring 18 of the Mavs first 20 points. He just makes the game look so easy. I’ve always thought great players must see the game so much slower than the rest of us, but Luka sees it slow and makes it look slower… and it’s still freaking amazing.
The loss actually puts Detroit in a tie with the Houston Rockets for first in the Wemby chase.
So, there’s that.
Let us know what you saw, think, hated or, if you actually have anything, loved from tonight in the comments.