Detroit Pistons-Rockets: Good, Bad and Ugly

Jan 22, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) blocks a shot from Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) during the fourth quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) blocks a shot from Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) during the fourth quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Jerami Grant’s apparent game-winner was called off as being just after the buzzer, and the Detroit Pistons fell to a shorthanded Houston Rockets team, 103-102. It was the squad’s second straight loss in heartbreaking fashion.

When you have the worst record in the NBA, the normal routine is to just get blown out. But the Pistons make their many defeats exciting.

The latest was getting crushed early, staging a major comeback, and then having Jerami Grant get shoved three times (with no foul call) before his shot that was a hair after the buzzer.

Detroit is now 3-12 on the season, with all of the losses, but one, by 10 points or less.

Here is the the Good, Bad and Ugly of the Rockets game

Detroit Pistons: The Good

Wayne Ellington: You could say the 33-year-old is playing like he did back in his younger days, but I’m not sure he was this good 10 years ago. He is a career 37.9% three-point shooter but he is connecting on 48.4% this season.

Ellington is shooting 61-percent from the three-point line in the last three games, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. That is Steph Curry like.

Making Ellington’s marksmanship even more remarkable is that he has been a starter in six of the nine games he’s seen action. That means he is not padding his stats against scrubs.

He had 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. More than that, as a veteran who has seen it all, Ellington contributes more than just shooting.

Delon Wright: He has struggled offensively this season. Wright’s EFG (Effective field goal percentage) is seven points lower than his career average.

Delon Wright got the scoring touch back on Friday night. He scored 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He also did well on defense, making three steals.

Casey lineup adjustments: We know there is sort of a code in the NBA on who is in at the end of the game, and who takes the last shot. A star player is insulted if they do not have their number called in crunch time.

Coach Dwane Casey had been following the code, and trotted out his two big names, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, for the end of games, and based his strategy on having the ball in their hands for the important shots.

The strategy had blown up in his face numerous times in this young season, the latest a loss on Thursday, where Detroit kicked away a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.

In a tough contest with Houston, Casey down the stretch had Rose and Griffin, who were a combined -25, sitting. Griffin got in for the final two minutes only because Josh Jackson fouled out, and actually hit a big three-pointer.

It will be interesting to see if this a new pattern, or just a one game situation, as Casey tried to pull out a win.

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Detroit Pistons: The Bad

Saddiq Bey: We heap praise on Bey when he does well, but the rookie out of Villanova was not doing well on Friday.

Saddiq Bey had been a great three-point shooter at the start of the season, but he has fallen into a major slump. This was the third straight game in which he did not make a three-pointer. He is a combined 1-for-9 on threes in his last four games.

Maybe teams are game-planning now for him, knowing he can knock down triples. Also hampering him is Bey’s struggles shooting regular two-pointers. Defenses know they can play him tight at the three-point line, as he will not hurt them going to the basket.

His struggles inside the arc have caused Bey to shy away from even taking regular two-point shots. The last time Bey took, not made, simply attempted, a shot that was not a three-pointer was January 13 against Milwaukee.

Bey is 6-8, an offensive rebound or a quick cut for a layup should be at least an occasional occurrence

Refereeing: After the game, Coach Dwane Casey said he thought Grant got fouled three times on the final play of the game. Looking at the replays, this appears to be correct.

It was odd that the refs would blow the whistle when Grant was making what looked like the game-winning shot, and not before he began his shooting motion, when he was pushed twice.

Grant had to shove the defender off him when he got the pass from Griffin in the final seconds, that should have been a foul right there.

Yeah, yeah, we know the old sports saying, you should never allow a game to come down to the officials – but this was pretty bad. Sorry.

Detroit Pistons: The Ugly

Pistons turnovers: When Vegas says the Detroit Pistons should win a game (Detroit was a 3.5 to 4 point favorite, depending on the betting site), you should be pretty confident they will come away with a rare ‘W’.

It seemed the only way Detroit could lose to a very short-handed Rockets team was to literally hand them the victory. Which is exactly what happened.

The Pistons at one point in the first half had 13 turnovers, to just four for the Rockets. Midway through the second quarter, the Rockets held a 43-23 lead.

Houston finished with 25 points off of turnovers to 15 for Detroit. This is where the game was lost (and the lousy refs).

Next. Do Detroit Pistons regret losing Christian Wood?. dark

It is amazing just how many different ways the Pistons find to lose games. The Rockets are not very good at full strength, and Detroit blew a game against them when they were missing five players (including ex-Piston Christian Wood).

Next up for Detroit are two home games in a row with the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers. We know they are winning one of those, because Detroit always seems to do what they are not suppose to.