Shorthanded Detroit Pistons comeback cut short in loss to Pelicans
Coming off a 135-118 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Detroit Pistons entered their matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans looking to win two games in a row for the second time this season. Detroit’s last two-game winning streak came in late November. However, with numerous injuries to their frontcourt, the shorthanded Pistons had an uphill battle to climb to defeat the Pelicans.
After trailing by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Pistons fought back to tighten the score. Unfortunately, their comeback bid faltered, and the Pistons fell short, 116-110.
Bojan Bogdanovic was automatic in the first quarter for the Pistons. The veteran forward scored 14 points in the opening period on six-for-six shooting from the floor. Despite his strong scoring output, the Pelicans finished the first quarter with a 32-28 lead.
The second quarter was not as friendly for Bogdanovic, less so for Detroit. Bogdanovic added just four points to his box score in the second quarter, including one-for-six shooting and zero-for-four from beyond the arc. The Pistons’ offense could not keep pace with the Pelicans. After exchanging leads early in the second quarter, the Pelicans pulled away on an 18-4 scoring run. The Pelicans led by as many as 14 points, but by halftime, the Pistons tightened the score, trailing the Pelicans 59-50.
A 33-33 third quarter left the Pelicans lead at nine heading into the fourth quarter.
The Pistons stormed back in the closing period. Led by Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey and Hamidou Diallo, the team tightened the Pelicans lead to three points. However, the team could not overtake New Orleans.
The Detroit Pistons missed big man duo in guarding Jonas Valanciunas
Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren remained out for the Pistons in their matchup against the Pelicans. Nerlens Noel was somewhat serviceable in their stead, but there was not much help behind the veteran center. Without backup big men in Detroit’s rotation, the Pistons turned to Bogdanovic and Bey as the de facto backup five.
The Pistons’ defense sorely missed their two defensive big men, and Marvin Bagley III’s absence did not help anything, either. While Bagley is not particularly strong on defense, he is another big body the Pistons could have thrown at the Pelicans.
Jonas Valanciunas feasted on the shorthanded Pistons, totaling 15 points in the first half alone. Early in the third quarter, Valanciunas’ aggression in attacking the basket caused Noel to get into foul trouble.
Valanciunas finished the game with 33 points and 16 rebounds. He took advantage of size mismatches with Bey, Diallo and Bogdanovic once Noel got into foul trouble. With Duren and Stewart in the lineup, Valanciunas would likely have been slowed down by stronger rim protection. Without them, Valanciunas was unstoppable by the diminished Pistons’ defense.
Saddiq Bey adds another positive performance for the Detroit Pistons
After starting off the season on a slow start, Bey has recently strung together stronger performances for the Pistons. Bey continues to attack the rim with confidence, and his three-point shot has slowly begun to find its mark with more consistency as the season wears on.
Bey finished the game with 20 points, second on the team to Bogdanovic, who finished with 22 points. He shot five-for-14 from the floor, including one-for-four from beyond the arc. His aggression off drives paid off as he drew contact and a whistle consistently. The third-year wing shot nine-for-10 from the charity stripe.
The Detroit Pistons take on the New York Knicks at Little Caesars Arena on Jan. 15 at 1 p.m.
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