Pistons’ late-game execution dooms them again

Despite having their first home game in 12 days, and the opponent playing their fourth game in five nights, the Detroit Pistons couldn’t pick up their first win of the season on Monday night, losing 92-90 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Detroit falls to 0-8 – their worst start in franchise history – after playing their closest game of the season. A decisive 30-17 fourth quarter by the Thunder won them the game, as they had entered the quarter down 73-62, including 18-of-18 from the free throw line. The Pistons, however, got just 1-of-2 free throws in the same frame, primarily because they stopped playing aggressively and took more jumpers.

The duo simply couldn’t stop OKC’s Russell Westbrook, however, who stuffed the stat line with 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals on his 24th birthday. The dynamic guard was simply too much to handle for any of the team’s guards, as he drew two fouls on Knight and Will Bynum in the first quarter alone.

OKC’s other top players, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, also had monster nights against the Pistons. Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and four blocks – 11 of those points and all four blocks came in the fourth – while also committing just one foul. Ibaka nearly had a triple-double with 11 points, seven rebounds and six blocks. The defense of these two alone kept the Pistons weary of driving to the basket, leaving them an outside-shooting team for the fourth quarter.

Rodney Stuckey easily had his best offensive game of the season with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting to go along with five assists and just two turnovers. His backcourt mate, Brandon Knight, however, struggled mightily, shooting just 15% from the field for eight points.

All in all, head coach Lawrence Frank has plenty of positives to take from this game. His team was better in every statistical category besides free throw shooting (18-of-27 to OKC’s 37-of-42), rebounding (39 to 44) and blocks (seven to 12); his bench showed they can bring more energy and create leads that the starters can build on and they really can play well against good teams.

Unfortunately, they had to find all that out in another loss, and one to a team that was tired from travel. They’ll get another chance at their first win on Wednesday night when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the 4-3 76ers. The rested Sixers are coming off a 93-83 victory against the Raptors on Saturday night. Tip-off from Philadelphia is 7 p.m.

Topics: Detroit Pistons, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder

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