For the second straight game, the Detroit Pistons fell short of a comeback victory. Against the Washington Wizards on Friday, the Pistons stormed back from a 16-point halftime deficit but ultimately fell short in a 100-97 loss.

Against the New York Knicks on Sunday, the Pistons trailed by double-digits early. They gave up 34 first-quarter points to New York leading to a 12-point deficit. The Knicks built up a 21-point lead in the second quarter, but Detroit rallied and brought the Knicks’ lead back down to 12 by halftime. In the third quarter, Detroit outscored the Knicks 32-21 bringing New York’s lead down to one heading into the final frame.

New York held onto their lead, but the Pistons had a chance to tie with 6.6 seconds left in the game. Cade Cunningham took the inbounds pass from Killian Hayes and set up for a drive at the top of the three-point line. He drove against Alec Burks, and with a quick stop, it appeared the rookie had shaken the veteran guard off. But Burks recovered and managed to block Cunningham’s shot to end the game at 104-102.

Three-point shooting has to be addressed again this offseason

The Pistons were a poor three-point shooting team in 2020-21. They shot 35.1 percent from beyond the arc as a team last season, 22nd in the NBA. In the ensuing offseason, GM Troy Weaver set out to address the Pistons’ shooting woes.

Weaver re-signed Frank Jackson and Rodney McGruder. He signed Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles and drafted Isaiah Livers.

After making moves to bring in more outside shooting, the Pistons have been worse in 2021-22. The team is shooting 32.4 percent on three-pointers, second-worst in the league. Of the players mentioned, only McGruder and Livers are shooting above 35 percent on three-pointers.

Olynyk is having the worst shooting season of his career connecting on only a third of his shots from outside. Lyles is already gone, not that he was shooting well anyways and Jackson is sinking only 31.6 percent of his threes after shooting above 40 percent a year ago.

Detroit’s poor outside shooting was on full display against the Knicks. As a team, they shot 27.6 percent from beyond the arc on 29 attempts. Detroit’s “three-point specialists” again disappointed. Olynyk shot zero-for-four, Jackson went one-for-three and Saddiq Bey shot one-for-six. Even McGruder had a lackluster performance, missing all three of his attempts from three-point range.

Outside shooting will have to be addressed again this offseason. Internal development of guys like Bey and Cunningham will go a long way towards improving Detroit’s long-range shooting, they are first and second on the team in three-point attempts per game. They need to target efficient long-range scorers in free agency and the draft as well.

Isaiah Stewart yet again flashes potential as a floor spacer

Isaiah Stewart’s potential as a floor spacer has been a topic of discussion since the end of his rookie season. The 20-year-old finished 2020-21 shooting 33.3 percent from beyond the arc on nearly one attempt per game. In his final 20 games of the season, increased his volume to 1.8 attempts.

This season, those discussions have started to die off. The big man is shooting 19.4 percent from three, and his attempts are down to 0.5 per game.

Against the Knicks, Stewart reminded everyone that his potential to space the floor is still there.

The 20-year-old sank two of his three shots from beyond the arc. He made his first with just under four minutes left in the second quarter. With Stewart set up at the top of the arc, Knicks center Jericho Sims sagged off to defend the paint. Cory Joseph drove the ball drawing Sims’ attention. The veteran point guard kicked it out to Stewart for a wide-open look.

The big man’s second three-pointer came just like the first. Sims again sagged off of Stewart as Joseph drove across the baseline. Stewart was all alone on the wing for another wide-open three-pointer.

Stewart looked comfortable taking those shots, he has looked comfortable when attempting threes all season, but the opportunity has seldom presented itself. This is just the fourth game this season where Stewart has attempted more than one three-pointer in a game. It is also the first time he has made more than one three-pointer in a single game this season.

Stewart took advantage of the defense not respecting him from outside. It should come as no surprise if Stewart closes out the season taking more shots from deep just as he did his rookie year.

Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Stewart pairing is better than initially thought

With Jerami Grant out after suffering a calf injury against the Wizards, Marving Bagley III was thrust into the starting lineup. An experiment by Head Coach Dwane Casey as Stewart and Bagley do not often share the floor together.

Pairing the two big men together always seemed like an awkward fit. Stewart had not shown much as a floor spacer until Sunday’s game, and Bagley is shooting 23.2 percent from beyond the arc this season. Bagley has played the majority of his minutes as a Piston alongside Oylnyk, a career 36.5 percent three-point shooter.

Both players performed well paired together. Stewart’s outside shot was falling and it provided a lot of versatility with Detroit’s offense. Along with Stewart’s two made three-pointers, Bagley scored a season-high 27 points, sinking one of his two attempts from three.

Both big men were comfortable playing on the perimeter while the other went to work in the paint. Their outside shooting, especially Stewart’s, is an important factor in how successful their pairing will be moving forward.

(Featured Image Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

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By Published On: March 28th, 2022Categories: Detroit Sports, NBA

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