Veterans to the Rescue


Shea Miller, Writer

Although the Detroit Pistons have the NBA’s second-worst record, they’re sticking to the plan they set last offseason: Competing every night to rebuild a winning culture in Detroit. That has remained the plan during the past two weeks, with the Pistons heavily sitting veterans and letting young players receive the bulk of the minutes. In a 111-97 win over Memphis Grizzlies, the team took the lead in the second quarter and never gave it back. After a very tough fought loss to the Hornets by three points on May 1st, the Pistons had a fantastic bounce back game and dominated a team that needs wins.

Sekou Doumbouya had another quick start to the game putting up 8 points and an assist in the first quarter along with the veteran Corey Joseph adding 8 points and 6 assists in the first quarter alone. With the veteran leadership from Corey Joseph and 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington, the Pistons were able to hold a nine-point lead at half holding the Grizzlies to just 17 points in the 2nd quarter. After receiving his second foul midway through the second quarter, Isaiah Stewart went off with 3 blocks and absolutely dominating the paint looking like a young Ben Wallace on both ends of the floor verse a very big and well-respected Jonas Valenciunas.

After the break, Motown was able to keep the visitors at a safe distance with a consistent margin of a couple of possessions. Memphis made a run to close the gap to two with 3:39 remaining in the third quarter. But Isaiah’s activity and Ellington’s long three pushed the lead to 8 points (78-70) after three quarters. In the last period, Detroit didn’t take their foot off the gas. This time it was Jahlil Okafor’s turn to contribute. In the first 6 minutes of the quarter, Jahlil scored 8 points and grabbed 2 boards. The Grizzlies tried to fight back but Detroit’s youth took matters into their own hands with Frank Jackson, Saddiq Bey and Sekou Doumbouya leading the way.

Detroit won due to a complete team effort. Seven Pistons players scored in double figures out of nine active players. Cory and Wayne led the way with 18 points each (Joseph added 11 assists against only one turnover, while Wayne made 6 from 10 shots beyond the arc). Isaiah had 15 points, though he missed all 5 attempts from the three, and 7 rebounds, an assist and 3 blocks. Sekou chipped in 14 points, and even though he also missed all (3) attempts from the long line, he made half of his shots them the field. Saddiq was quieter in the game, taking only 7 shots, making 4 of them (including 3-of-4 from triple-land), to finish with 13 points (plus 5 boards and an assist). Jahlil also scored 13 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and 5 boards. Finally, Frank had a quieter night as well, scoring 11 points on 6 shots, adding 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

The win gave some Pistons fans anxiety, even though they still have the second-best lottery odds going into Friday. With five games left, there’s time for more wins, which would lower their chances in the lottery. But the Pistons aren’t concerned about that because winning is the goal, and Dwayne Casey was pleased with the lift they got from Ellington and Joseph. Overall, it was a beautiful game to watch even with Pistons stars sitting out like Jerami Grant, Killian Hayes and Mason Plumlee.