Big-man duo leads Detroit Pistons to 89-78 win over Orlando in Summer League opener

Detroit Free Press

LAS VEGAS — The Detroit Pistons finished their first Summer League game better than they started it, and it ended with a double-digit victory.

The Pistons defeated the Orlando Magic, 89-78, at Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday. They were powered by strong performances from their starting big duo of Jalen Duren (17 points, eight rebounds) and James Wiseman (16 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks).

Jaden Ivey (14 points, five rebounds, four assists, 5-for-19 shooting and six turnovers) and Marcus Sasser (10 points) also scored in double figures. Ausar Thompson, the No. 5 overall pick in last month’s draft, had an all-around game with seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks, and Buddy Boeheim had nine points on making all three of his 3-pointers.

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The Pistons overcame sloppy ball control, turning the ball over 22 times against 17 assists.

Thompson shows off all-around game

He only scored a single point in the first half, but Thompson’s presence was felt. He was a do-it-all wing during his two seasons with Overtime Elite, and his feel for the game, floor vision and defensive instincts stood out.

Thompson thrived in transition and found his teammates for a pair of assists in the first half — a halfcourt pass to Wiseman for an open dunk, and a fullcourt drive and kick to Jared Rhoden for a corner 3-pointer that gave the Pistons their first lead, 33-32, midway through the second quarter.

His first and only basket happened in the third period and was the result of his defensive hustle. He blocked No. 6 overall pick Anthony Black at the rim, received the ball from Sasser and finished an awkwardly angled layup off the high glass. It was his third block of the day after recording two in the first half.

Thompson finished the game with just four shot attempts, but he showcased the versatility that made him Detroit’s preference at No. 5.

Wiseman makes impact on both ends

Entering his fourth season, Wiseman is one of Detroit’s most experienced players. He looked the part on Saturday.

He set the defensive tone for the Pistons early with a pair of thunderous blocks, then found his offensive groove in the third quarter. He opened the second half with a three-point play, finishing a layup through contact. A corner 3-pointer followed soon after. He nearly had a double-double by the end of the third with a team-high 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

Wiseman is facing a big year, as he’s extension-eligible and a summer away from restricted free agency if he doesn’t sign before the start of next season. He was in control against Orlando and led the Pistons to victory.

Duren showcases his shooting range

Duren was many things for the Pistons last season, but he wasn’t a floor-spacer. So he turned heads when he stepped behind the 3-point line and calmly sank a corner 3 midway through the first quarter.

It was a sign of what was to come, as he knocked down two midrange jumpers in the final period to help the Pistons pull away. Will it carry over into the season? Too early to say. But Duren worked on his jumper after practices last season and looked comfortable on Saturday.

He was one of Detroit’s best players, despite six turnovers. He and Wiseman combined for 19 rebounds, and his scoring was a surprise after thriving as a lob and putback threat as a rookie.

Ivey struggles in 2nd Summer League debut

The Pistons got off to a cold start, missing their first five shots before Sasser scored their first field goal with a 3-pointer. Ivey bore responsibility, turning the ball over four times less than six minutes into the game.

It wasn’t the Summer League return Ivey envisioned for himself. Ivey also struggled to hit shots, missing seven of his first eight 3-point attempts and going 5-for-19 overall. No other Piston reached double digits in shots.

There’s no need to overreact to a poor Summer League outing, of course — Ivey had many strong performances during his second-team All-Rookie season. But he and Duren were a big reason why Detroit struggled to move the ball as a team.

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