Observations: Ausar Thompson posts double-double, Pistons edge Spurs for third Summer League win

Detroit News

Ausar Thompson added several highlights to his Summer League mixtape during the Pistons’ fourth game in Las Vegas.

The fifth overall pick in last month’s draft is gradually earning a reputation around the league for his explosiveness and rebounding ability, and Friday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs was another display of Thompson’s potential.

Late in the second quarter, Buddy Boeheim missed a shot inside the paint but Thompson bounced off two feet as if he was jumping off a trampoline before he threw down a one-handed putback dunk over his former Overtime Elite teammate, Dominic Barlow.

One play later, Thompson connected on a three-pointer, part of his versatile showing in Detroit’s 79-73 win on Friday. He finished with a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds on 2-of-5 shooting from the 3-point line.

Thompson missed a couple of triples in the fourth quarter as they were highly contested, but his perimeter shooting early in the game was a bright spot among the defensive prowess Thompson’s already exhibited through his time in Las Vegas. His crucial offensive rebound with 13.6 seconds left led to two free throws to ice the game.

If Thompson can maintain this momentum going into training camp and the regular season, his number will be called on to contribute immediately for the Pistons. He already has a big supporter in Pistons coach Monty Williams, who praised him and fellow rookie Marcus Sasser in a pregame interview.

“Make no mistake, I’ve become a fan of Ausar and Sass,” Williams said. “Their toughness, we saw it down the stretch (against the Houston Rockets). Those two guys just made play after play and played winning basketball.”

The Pistons entered their fourth game needing to win by at least 23 points in order to qualify for the semifinal round of the 2023 Las Vegas Summer League.

They built a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter until the San Antonio Spurs erased the double-digit deficit led by Barlow, who finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama was shut down after two polarizing games.

Since the Pistons did not qualify for the Summer League playoffs, they will play a fifth and final game on Sunday, which has yet to be announced.

Here are a couple of other observations from Friday’s win over the Spurs:

Cazalon shines: Pistons two-way guard Malcolm Cazalon scored the game’s first points with a 25-foot 3-pointer from the top of the key. He was much more aggressive on the offensive end than his previous three games as he received the start at shooting guard over two-way guard Jared Rhoden. He finished with 16 points and four rebounds. Cazalon also drained a fadeaway 3-pointer to give the Pistons a 77-70 lead with 54.2 seconds left, prompting the entire bench to stand.

“I was just myself,” Cazalon told ESPN. “I just got good. They found me. We played the right way.”

Cazalon also had heavy praise for Thompson, who tallied his first Summer League double-double on Friday.

“He’s going to be the Rookie of the Year,” Cazalon said before doubling down, “I bet that.”


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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