Pistons News & Views: Last-second losses, injury updates and an Orlando reunion

Detroit News

The clock is ticking on the Pistons and their 2022-23 campaign, and the final few games are all about tinkering with different lineups and combinations.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey used a couple of three-guard lineups in Wednesday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rookie guard Jaden Ivey is playing with confidence down the final stretch of the season and his play has been a bright spot, but questions still remain on whether the team will be able to maximize their slew of big men, including James Wiseman and Jalen Duren.

Detroit is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, and they’ll look to break it on the road against either the lowly-Houston Rockets on Friday or in Sunday’s matchup against the rebuilding Orlando Magic.

This week’s News & Views looks at the Pistons’ latest defeat, the possibility of Hamidou Diallo and Isaiah Stewart’s return and RJ Hampton’s upcoming reunion in Orlando.

News: Hamidou Diallo and Isaiah Stewart have passed the 3-week timeline for re-evaluation of their injuries.

Views: Diallo and Stewart were given three- to four-week timelines for their respective injuries at the beginning of March. The three-week mark passed this week, so both of them could be re-evaluated pretty soon. Diallo, who suffered a grade-2 right ankle sprain against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 6, was playing at a high level off the bench for the Pistons. Stewart was dealing with hip soreness before he was ruled out on March 9 due to a left shoulder impingement. The injury impacted his 3-point shooting, which he’s emphasized as his main offensive weapon this season. With less than six games remaining, it wouldn’t make any sense to rush them back into the lineup. However, it would be beneficial for Stewart to gain some game experience with Detroit’s other three bigs: Jalen Duren, James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III. This time of the year is all about experimentation, and that’s a move that would spice things up for the final week of the regular season.

News: The Pistons lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 107-106, on Wednesday night.

Views: When Cory Joseph’s clutch 3-pointer with 13.5 seconds left went through the net, it appeared as if the Pistons were going to escape Oklahoma City with a victory. However, that wasn’t the case after a jump ball that led to another heartbreaking loss due to a put-back by the opposing team as Jalen Williams scored with 0.5 seconds left. It wasn’t the first time the Pistons lost in that fashion, after Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. had a putback at the buzzer on Feb. 23 and Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford did the same on March 7.

Boxing out is a fundamental practice, that if not executed properly, can be the difference between a win or a loss in the game’s final moments.

“We always remember that play, but there’s so many little things that led to that that we have to make sure we grow and learn from, and really correct to win close games like that,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said after the game.

Detroit only had one true big man (Wiseman) on the floor during the game-deciding play, but those could be opportunities to pair him with either Duren or Bagley, which increases the Pistons’ chances of having a shot-blocker down low and another big to crash the boards.

News: RJ Hampton will make his return to Orlando on Sunday night.

Views: Hampton, who joined the Pistons during the buyout period, two days after being waived from the Magic, will have an opportunity to face his former team. Hampton is averaging 7.3 points and 2.0 rebounds off the bench in 15 games with the Pistons, but what has really shined through is his 3-point shooting. The third-year guard is shooting 39% from beyond the arc and has shown comfort on his catch-and-shoot attempts. He’ll have six more games to show if he fits the Pistons’ rebuild long-term, an experience he is sharing with former 10-day signee Eugene Omoruyi, who just faced his former team in the Thunder on Wednesday.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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