Friday’s slate of NBA games included several matchups with playoff implications, but there was a battle between the teams with the worst records in the league being held in Houston.
Both franchises will be in line this summer to secure a top-five pick to add to their young rosters, but their latest meeting was about coming away with a victory. Both teams were riding seven-game losing streaks and the game was competitive from start to finish with 23 lead changes and 14 ties.
The stage was set for the fourth quarter and the Pistons trailed by three with 3:15 left in the game. Jalen Duren, who totaled 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, split a pair of free throws to cut Houston’s deficit to 110-108. Rockets guard Jalen Green then gave his team a four-point lead when he drove directly into the body of Marvin Bagley III and finished through contact.
Marvin Bagley knocked down a pair of freebies with 1:18 left to bring the Pistons within three, but Kevin Porter Jr. put the game out of reach as he knocked down his seventh 3-pointer of the night. Green scored a tough basket on the Rockets’ next possession to officially ice the game.
The Pistons (16-61) couldn’t execute down the stretch to come away with the victory as they suffered a 119-112 loss to the Rockets (19-59). It was their second loss to Houston this season after a 121-115 loss to the Rockets on Jan. 28.
Marvin Bagley III led the way on offense for the Pistons. He was one of seven Detroit players to reach double figures as he totaled 20 points on 8-of-13 from the field.
BOX SCORE: Rockets 121, Pistons 115
Jaden Ivey continued his impressive play as of late with 18 points and nine assists. He set a team record on Friday and set the franchise rookie record with 34 consecutive double-digit scoring performances, passing Dave bing’s previous record of 33.
Cory Joseph, who knocked down back-to-back 3s in the fourth quarter, led the Pistons’ bench with 17 points and five assists.
Porter Jr. was as efficient from the 3-point line as he knocked down seven of his 13 attempts from distance. He scored a game-high 33 points and made his mark defensively with four steals. Green, who did not play in the first meeting against the Pistons in Detroit, totaled 32 points and five assists.
The Pistons will conclude their three-game road trip with their final meeting against the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
Here are a few observations from Friday’s loss:
Motivated Marvin: When Bagley is aggressive, he can be one the Pistons’ best big men. Bagley started the game that way as he dominated the post in the first quarter. He scored 11 of his 21 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. The 6-foot-11 big man showed his array of post moves with jump hooks here or there, but he also showed an ability to run the floor and finish in transition. He also showed a willingness to pass when doubled, which created opportunities for his teammates. Bagley’s production kept the Pistons competitive to match the Rockets’ 31 first-quarter points.
Livers’ bounce back: Isaiah Livers didn’t score in Wednesday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he notched six quick points in the first quarter of Friday’s game. He knocked down his second 3 of the night off a beautiful feed from Ivey, who embraced Livers immediately after the shot went down. He finished with 12 points on 3-of-6 from the 3-point line. It was a welcome sight for the second-year forward, who is still working his way back into a rhythm after returning from an ankle injury. Livers’ first two seasons in the league have been hindered by the inability to consistently stay on the floor, but he can become a valuable piece on both the offensive and defensive ends if he can stay healthy.
Birthday boy: James Wiseman, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Friday, picked up two early fouls and was sidelined for the remaining 7:27 of the first quarter. He returned to action in the second quarter to give Bagley some relief and immediately found success with his deadly jump hook, which has become a go-to move when he’s matched against smaller defenders. Wiseman played well offensively, but he had difficulty absorbing contact and matching the physicality of Houston big man Alperen Sengun. He fouled out with 3:48 seconds left after fouling Sengun, leaving Detroit with two true bigs. He finished with eight points and four rebounds.