Detroit − In a game that was never supposed to happen this late into the season, the undermanned Pistons sought to snap a season-long, eight-game losing streak.
Detroit’s latest matchup against the Washington Wizards was originally set to be played on Feb. 1, but travel and flight issues prevented the Pistons from leaving Dallas after a loss to the Mavericks on Jan. 30. As a result, the NBA moved Detroit’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers to Monday and inserted the postponed game to Tuesday night.
The game was close throughout with 14 lead changes and 12 ties, but the Pistons found themselves within two points in the game’s final moments.
However, Bradley Beal tied the game with a layup with 35.2 seconds left, giving the Pistons a chance to take the lead on the next possession. Isaiah Livers tried to drive the ball inside, but he was stripped by Kyle Kuzma, setting up the game’s final possession.
Beal drove inside the paint and attempted a floater and missed, but Daniel Gafford tipped the ball in at the buzzer, dealing the Pistons a 119-117 loss as time expired.
Jaden Ivey, who had his second straight double-double with 26 points, five rebounds and 12 assists, called his own number late in the game and made several game-changing plays. He drained a 30-foot 3-pointer with 3:18 left to give the Pistons a 110-109 lead.
Wizards forward Kristaps Porzingis then gave Washington a brief one-point lead until Ivey knotted the score at 111 after splitting a pair of free throws. Ivey’s clutchness continued after he scored a layup and hit two free throws to give the Pistons a two-point lead with 50 seconds left.
James Wiseman had a bounce-back game for Detroit — which had six scorers in double-figures — with 21 points and five rebounds. He was highly efficient from the field, knocking down his first six field goal attempts. He also made a clutch hook as he tied the game at 113 with 2:20 left in the game.
Beal led Washington with 32 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Flint native Klye Kuzma added 23 points and two rebounds. Kuzma scored 16 of those points in the second half, which included back-to-back 3-point plays in the fourth quarter. Porzingis, who fouled out late in the game, had 24 points and seven rebounds.
Here are a few other observations from Tuesday’s loss:
Double-double alert: Jaden Ivey’s first jumpshot was a fading 14-footer over Delon Wright. As he backpedaled back on defense, he signaled he was too small. His final jumper of the quarter was a double-clutching heave at the buzzer in front of two defenders. For the remainder of the game, Ivey looked to get his teammates involved until it was time for him to take over late in the fourth quarter. Ivey scored 14 points in the final frame, which kept Detroit afloat until Gafford’s game-winner.
Wiseman’s explosive start: After a tough three-game stretch, James Wiseman regained his footing in Tuesday’s game against the Wizards. The 7-foot center nailed his first four shots, which included back-to-back mid-range jumpers and a thunderous poster dunk on Porzingis. Wiseman also showed off his handle a bit as he took Daniel Gafford off the dribble before attempting another vicious dunk. He was also active around the rim, which Detroit will need if it wants to snap out of their nine-game slump.
Joseph’s calming veteran presence: Over the last three games, Pistons coach Dwane Casey has relied on Cory Joseph to lead the offense for the second unit. Joseph provided another boost on Tuesday and he used his scoring and playmaking to make a difference on the floor. Joseph finished with 11 points and six assists.
Omoruyi’s breakout game: Eugene Omoruyi, who the Pistons recently signed to a 10-day contract, got his number called early when he checked into the game with three minutes left in the first quarter. He made the most of his minutes on Tuesday and showed a wide-ranging skillset. He drilled one of his two 3-point attempts. He crashed the boards, especially the offensive glass finishing with five rebounds. He also made an excellent read by driving inside the paint and dumping a pass off to Marvin Bagley III for a two-handed dunk. Omoruyi was also rewarded by Ivey for running the floor, to which he finished a fastbreak with a one-handed jam. Omoruyi will have two more games − Thursday vs. Charlotte and Saturday vs. Indiana − to showcase his talents before his 10-day deal expires.