Coming off a 130-122 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, the Detroit Pistons were in a position to win two games in a row for the first time since late November. The Pistons took on the Houston Rockets, who held the worst record in the NBA. Without Jalen Green, the shorthanded Rockets were as vulnerable as the Pistons could ask for. After a back-and-forth game, the Detroit Pistons ultimately fell 117-114 to Houston.
The Pistons took control early in the game. Through the first four minutes of action, the team led the Rockets 16-4, including holding Houston to 25 percent shooting from the floor. An 11-point quarter from rookie guard Jaden Ivey helped the Pistons hold onto their lead, despite Houston picking up its offense after a slow start. The Pistons led 37-27 through the first quarter.
The Rockets bounced back in the second quarter. After a messy start to the quarter, including a wedgie from veteran Eric Gordon, Houston took advantage of the Pistons’ turnovers and lack of rebounding presence. Houston went on an 18-7 run, which allowed them to take the lead. The Pistons answered, and both teams exchanged punches throughout much of the closing minutes of the quarter. A late layup by Gordon gave the Rockets a 59-57 lead.
Houston pulled ahead early in the third quarter, leading by as many as 12 points. However, numerous turnovers, including a few Pistons steals, helped Detroit tighten the score. A 22-7 scoring run allowed the Pistons to steal the lead back 86-83 by the end of the third quarter.
The score tightened late in the fourth quarter. After recording an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, Houston retook the lead. Houston added a few free throws, and held on to win after Ivey’s final three-point attempt missed its mark.
Hamidou Diallo played his best game in the Detroit Pistons’ loss
Despite the loss, multiple Pistons had strong performances in the game. Alec Burks led the team with 21 points, including six-for-11 shooting from beyond the arc. Bojan Bogdanovic was second on the team in scoring with 18 points. However, the one Piston who made his presence known throughout the entirety of the game was Hamidou Diallo.
Diallo’s 15 points were the fourth most on the team and the most of any Piston coming off the bench. Diallo was in position to finish transition scoring opportunities and impose his will around the rim. He shot five-for-six from the charity stripe, significantly better than his season average of 56.9 percent.
On the defensive end, Diallo forced multiple turnovers. The athletic wing tallied five of the Pistons’ 10 steals as a team. He added a block in the first half of action as well. Diallo’s strong performance was not enough to will the Pistons to victory, but it was one of his best individual performances of the season.
Detroit Pistons cannot overcome rebounding struggles despite strong individual defensive performances
The Pistons’ defense was critical to the team rallying in the third quarter and taking the lead. That stout defense came off the back of strong individual performances such as Diallo’s.
The team finished the game with 10 steals and five blocks. Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and Jalen Duren all came up with timely blocks or steals. Hayes, especially, was able to turn his steal into a quick opportunity in transition on the other end.
However, the Pistons’ lack of big-man depth was detrimental to their chances at victory. Without Marvin Bagley III due to injury and without Nerlens Noel receiving minutes, Stewart and Duren were the only big men available for Detroit in the game. Houston outrebounded the team 48-36. Detroit gave up 16 offensive boards to the Rockets, resulting in numerous second-chance opportunities for Houston.
Houston made the most of those second-chance opportunities, as well as taking advantage of the Pistons’ mistakes and turnovers. Detroit turned in a valiant effort defensively, but it is hard to win when the other team dominates the offensive boards.
(Featured Image Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)