Jalen Duren’s career night helps Detroit Pistons defeat Spurs in double OT, 138-131

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons were also missing two rotation players following Thursday’s trade deadline. Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox were traded to the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively. Detroit’s returning player in the four-team deal, James Wiseman, didn’t make his debut Friday.

The San Antonio Spurs were even more shorthanded. They entered Friday’s game at Little Caesars Arena with five of their top players — Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, Jeremy Sochan, Devin Vassell and Romeo Langford — listed on the injury report as “OUT.”

The Pistons led by nine points in the fourth quarter, but the game descended into a back-and-forth, double-overtime thriller following a late collapse.

But Detroit eventually prevailed, defeating the Spurs, 138-131, behind a dominant night from rookie center Jalen Duren, who finished with a career-high 32 points and 17 rebounds. He received an ovation from the home crowd after he checked out midway through the second overtime, and he scored 28 of his 30 points through the first four quarters.

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The Pistons (15-42) missed nine of 10 shots to start the game and trailed by 16 points with 7:41 to play in the second quarter. But a 40-18 rally through the middle of the third quarter put the Pistons back in control before a late 15-7 Spurs run set up a first overtime.

In the second overtime, Isaiah Livers (11 points, 10 rebounds) hit a 3-pointer with just under two minutes left to give Detroit the lead for good, 132-131. Isaiah Stewart then tipped in a Bojan Bogdanovic miss with 51.8 seconds left to extend their lead to three, and Bogdanovic iced the game with a pair of free throws with 15.7 seconds remaining to stretch the lead to five.

Bogdanovic (32 points), Jaden Ivey (17 points, eight assists, eight rebounds), Hamidou Diallo (14 points) and Stewart (15 points, 11 rebounds) also scored in double-figures. The Spurs were led by Devonte’ Graham, who scored 31 in his first game after being traded from New Orleans, Malaki Branham (27 points) and Zach Collins (29 points, 11 rebounds), who fouled out toward the end of the first overtime.

Back and forth

Detroit sent San Antonio (14-42) to the free-throw line four times in the first 3:11 of the first overtime, and the Spurs down five of eight attempts to take a 120-117 lead. Ivey, responsible for two of the fouls, got to the line himself with 1:39 to play and sank both to get the Pistons back within one. Then Graham took two more with 1:25 to play, after reacting to light contact from Livers.

Graham sank both to retake a three-point lead. A stepback 3-pointer by Ivey during Detroit’s next possession clanked off of the rim, but he made up for it by drawing a shooting foul with 34.1 seconds remaining. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich challenged the call, but it was unsuccessful. Ivey made both free throws, slashing the deficit to one.

Graham struck again for San Antonio, sinking a 3-pointer with 18.4 seconds left in the first overtime to push San Antonio’s lead to four and seemingly put the game away. Bogdanovic answered with a quick 3-pointer three seconds later, though it was changed to a 2-pointer after a review showed his foot grazed the line. But a steal by Livers on the inbounds pass led to Bogdanovic drawing a foul, and he sank both to tie the game at 125 and send the game into a second overtime.

It was a horrific shooting night for Detroit, which shot just 7-for-37 from 3-point range. Their 18.9% clip set a new season low.

Ivey missed his first eight shots before draining his first field goal with fewer than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The bucket pushed Detroit’s lead back to eight, and appeared to give them enough cushion to close out the win in regulation and snap a three-game skid.

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However, Graham hit a 3-pointer with 3:21 remaining to extend a 15-7 Spurs run and tie the game at 107. Ivey’s second field goal of the night — a midrange jumper — just over a minute later gave Detroit a two-point advantage, and he drove and found Duren for a layup during Detroit’s next possession to extend their lead to four, 113-109.

The Spurs responded. Collins hit a layup, and Ivey lost his handle to give former Piston Stanley Johnson a transition layup to tie the game at 113 and clinch overtime.

Duren dominates in career night

Duren’s rapid growth has been one of the highlights of the Pistons’ dreary season. Since Jan. 4, the rookie is averaging 12.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He’s developed strong chemistry with Ivey and Killian Hayes. Friday was a showcase of how far Duren has come since opening night.

He made 13 of 20 shot attempts on Friday. Duren was alert, pushing a lax Spurs defense by attacking space and making life easy for Detroit’s ball-handlers. He also had two clutch plays in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, tipping in a missed layup from Bogdanovic with 2:58 remaining to give the Pistons a 109-107 lead, and then receiving a pass from Ivey shortly after to push the lead to four.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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