Pistons news: 145 games, dunks and misleading stats

Mar 13, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Detroit Pistons center Jalen Duren (0)
Mar 13, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons center Jalen Duren (0) / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons got their third win in four games, a sentence I've not gotten to write in a long time.

It's been 145 games since the Pistons achieved this feat, a streak that extends back to 2022.

The Pistons came out dunking, as the shorthanded Raptors didn't have a real center on the floor for most of the game and Detroit predictably dominated the boards. Jalen Duren was grabbing and dunking every miss in the first quarter, racking up five dunks and eight boards before the first frame was half over.

James Wiseman grabbed 10 of his own, and the Pistons dominated the rebounding battle against a team starting Kelly Olynyk at center.

Not to put a damper on things, but this wasn't a great game for the Pistons, who fell behind by 16 points in the 2nd quarter, turned the ball over 21 times and committed 21 fouls.

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They got a home win against a team they should beat, as Toronto was missing several key players and has now lost five straight.

Most of the talk after the game was around Jalen Duren's monster night, as he scored 24 points and added a career-high 23 rebounds to go with five assists.

Obviously, you'll take that anytime from your 20-year-old center, but there is more to the game than gaudy numbers.

Detroit Pistons: Jalen Duren's numbers are somewhat misleading

I am not trying to pick on Duren, especially after he had a career night, but even though he put up huge numbers, this was not his best game.

He once again picked up two early fouls, one when he plowed over Olynyk (one of the league's premier floppers) and another when he bit on a pump fake from a jump shooter, which has unfortunately become a common occurrence.

Several times he failed to close out on Olynyk and get a hand in his face on 3-point shots and got beaten on drives from the crafty veteran when he did.

The Raptors started targeting Duren in the pick-and-roll in the 2nd quarter, part of how they made their big run, and he was a step behind on several dunks after finding himself out of position.

This may seem like nitpicking for a guy who just put up 24/23/5 before his 21st birthday, and I suppose it is. But this was a game that Duren should have dominated against a team whose frontcourt is decimated. Almost all of his points came off uncontested putbacks and dunks, something we know he does well, and he also did a good job only picking up one more foul after the two early ones.

But he didn't block a single shot or affect many in the paint. Kelly Olynyk, who is hardly a rim protector, blocked two and guard Jaden Ivey got one of his own. James Wiseman had three swats. Duren turned the ball over five times, committed three bonehead fouls and wasn't effective defensively.

So even though he had this huge night in the counting stats, there was plenty to improve and those things are more important to the Detroit Pistons moving forward.

I sound like a grumpy old man here, so let's celebrate that the Pistons have a very good young center who is only going to get better, and that they won their third game in four tries even if all of them came against bad, shorthanded teams, but we can't ignore the reality either, which is that Jalen Duren's defensive improvement may be the most important factor in the development of the young core.