For much of the night, a lengthy injury report appeared to be the catalyst in a blowout road loss for the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
But a late run nearly allowed the Pistons to close a 24-point deficit and leave Charlotte with a surprise victory.
After trailing 82-58 midway through the third quarter, the Pistons used a 28-10 rally to make it a close game in the fourth quarter.
A layup by Killian Hayes got the Pistons within five points with 5:20 remaining in the game. But the Hornets, who lost LaMelo Ball to a fractured right ankle early in the third quarter, held on thanks to clutch plays by Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre, and held on for a 117-106 win in Charlotte.
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The Pistons (15-47 overall) were severely shorthanded, entering the game without Jaden Ivey (personal reasons) Jalen Duren (bilateral ankle soreness), Bojan Bogdanovic (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy) and Isaiah Stewart (right hip soreness). They also lost Isaiah Livers, who started in place of Duren, in the first quarter with a left ankle sprain.
Livers’ injury left them with just eight healthy players. James Wiseman stepped up with his best game as a Piston, finishing with 23 points and seven rebounds on 9-for-11 shooting. Hamidou Diallo (23 points, 10-for-15 shooting) and Marvin Bagley III (21 points, 12 rebounds) delivered big performances off the bench, and Alec Burks (17 points) and Hayes (12 points, 10 assists) also reached double figures in scoring.
Ball hit four 3-pointers and dished four assists in the first quarter to help the Hornets go on a 34-8 run that broke the game open early. The Pistons led by six points three minutes into the quarter, and exited it with a 20-point deficit. Beyond their lack of health, the Pistons also suffered from a season-worst outing from behind-the arc. They knocked down just three of their 26 3-point attempts, giving them season-lows in made 3-pointers and percentage (11.5%).
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But Ball’s injury caused the Hornets to go cold, and they gave up a late Pistons run while allowing them to shoot 58.1% in the second half. Charlotte was hot in the first, shooting 56.1% overall and 9-for-15 from 3.
Diallo, Bagley power 2nd half run
Diallo has found his niche with the Pistons. He’s been one of the NBA’s most efficient finishers and has given the team a jolt of energy every time he’s checked in. Monday was his best game of the season, and illustrated why he’s positioning himself nicely as he approaches unrestricted free agency.
He was integral to Detroit’s 28-10 run, scoring 19 of his 23 points on 8-for-9 shooting with three steals and two assists in the second half. Diallo stole the ball and finished a transition layup to whittle Charlotte’s lead down to 11, and then finished a transition dunk and split a trip at the line to cap the run and cut the deficit down to six with 8:37 remaining in the game.
Another steal and dunk midway through the fourth quarter got the Pistons within seven, 102-95. Bagley also found his rhythm late, tallying 17 of his 21 points in the final period. He completed a 3-point play with 1:50 remaining to get the deficit down to single digits, but the Pistons ran out of time to complete a comeback. Bagley answered the coaching staff’s call to play with consistency after leading the team with 21 points and 18 rebounds on Saturday.
Wiseman seizes opportunity
Wiseman had steadily grown more comfortable in his new surroundings after arriving in Detroit at the trade deadline. With the Pistons’ depth up front depleted with Duren and Stewart both out, Wiseman logged his second-straight start and put together his best offensive performance in a Pistons uniform.
He got going early with a putback dunk and a pair of layups — including a graceful euro step past a Hornets defender in transition — for six points in the first four minutes of the game. He had another highlight toward the end of the second quarter, cutting through the lane and finishing a ferocious two-handed slam.
Midway through the third, he knocked down his only 3-point attempt of the night to lead up Detroit’s game-shifting 28-10 run that enabled them to cut a 24-point deficit to five in the fourth quarter. Wiseman showed off his full offensive repertoire — his post dexterity and face-up ability — on a night the Pistons needed a lift. He also held his own defensively, and didn’t register a foul in nearly 27 minutes played.
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Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.
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