Pistons lose by one point as Thunder hit winner with 0.5 seconds left

Detroit News

The Pistons were a completely different team when they last met the Oklahoma City Thunder in November.

Most of the roster was healthy and available, including Cade Cunningham, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart and Hamidou Diallo. Saddiq Bey was also a member of the Pistons the last time Detroit and Oklahoma City played against each other.

Much has changed since that early season matchup.

On Wednesday, the interconference opponents lined up against each other again, this time with playoff implications on the line. The Thunder entered as the 10th seed in the Western Conference and were looking to increase their chances at making the Play-In tournament.

The Pistons, who were riding a six-game losing streak, were playing for pride and looked to leave Paycom Center with a victory.

That appeared to be the case when Cory Joseph knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.5 seconds left to give the Pistons a 106-105 lead. However, the game isn’t over until the final buzzer sounds and that rang true as Thunder forward Jalen Williams tipped in a layup with 0.5 seconds left to give Oklahoma City a 107-106 edge.

More: BOX SCORE: Thunder 107, Pistons 106

The Pistons trailed by as many as eight, but their efficient 3-point shooting kept them in the game. Rookie guard Jaden Ivey knocked down a corner 3 with 3:35 left to knot the score at 100. Luguentz Dort, who finished with 20 points, converted on a 3-point play to give Oklahoma City the edge with less than two minutes left in the game.

Ivey appeared to counter Dort’s 3-point play as he scored a layup with 1:48 seconds while absorbing contact from Thunder forward Jaylin Williams, but he was called for an offensive foul. The foul was his sixth personal and he had to sit for the remainder of the game. Pistons coach Dwane Casey challenged the call, but it was unsuccessful.

The Pistons found themselves trailing by two points with the ball on the game’s final possession with 19.4 seconds left when Joseph drilled a 3-pointer to give Detroit a 106-105 lead with 13.5 seconds remaining. The Thunder had one final stand when Josh Giddey drove inside the paint and missed, resulting in a jumpball between Eugene Omoruyi and Dort, who won the tip. Detroit’s fate was sealed when Giddey missed a floater that led to Jalen Williams’ game-winning tip-in.

It was the third instance this season that Detroit has lost in the game’s final seconds after allowing an offensive rebound that led to a tip-in.

Ivey finished with a team-high 24 points and nine assists. James Wiseman added a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Omoruyi also added 14 points and five rebounds.

All four of the Pistons’ bench players — Jalen Duren (10), Joseph (13), RJ Hampton (12) and Omoruyi — scored at least 10 points.

The Thunder had five players in double scoring figures, led by Jalen Williams, who finished with a game-high 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Aaron Wiggins totaled 19 points. Giddey added 18 points and seven assists.

Here are a couple of observations from Wednesday’s loss:

All eyes on Ivey: The Pistons’ rookie guard was surely the focal point of the Thunder’s scouting report after Ivey scored a career-high 32 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. He had a quick start after nailing the first 3-pointer of the game, but he picked up a pair of quick fouls shortly after. Ivey battled foul trouble throughout the game, picking up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter, but he was able to keep the Thunder on its toes with his scoring and facilitating. Ivey scored eight of the Pistons’ last eight points of the first half, which helped give them a 56-54 lead at the break. Ivey is becoming more comfortable being the Pistons’ go-to scorer when they need a basket and he showed yet again during the final minutes of the game.

Another reunion for Omoruyi: After playing in his home country of Canada last week, Eugene Omoruyi returned to Oklahoma City to face his former team on Wednesday. Omoruyi played 23 games with the Thunder earlier this season before he joined the Pistons. He knocked down both of his 3-pointers, an area he strives to improve in. Omoruyi reunited with his former teammates after the loss for a photo.

Now that the Pistons have three of their four big men healthy, Omoruyi’s role has shifted to play spot minutes when Pistons coach Dwane Casey chooses to play with just once center. It’ll be interesting to see how his role develops going forward.


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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