Detroit Pistons fizzle in second half, fall to New Orleans Pelicans on road, 128-118

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Omari Sankofa II, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read
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The Detroit Pistons started strong on Wednesday, shooting 58.3% in the first quarter and leading by 10 early in the second.

But they without Jerami Grant for the first time this season, and they played their third game in four nights. The New Orleans Pelicans were the more energetic team in the second half, and they escaped with a win.

The Pistons lost to the Pelicans on the road, 128-118. Josh Jackson led the Pistons with 25 points, and Mason Plumlee flirted with a triple double with 21 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four blocks. Isaiah Stewart added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Zion Williamson led New Orleans with 32 points.

Doumbouya logs second start

The Pistons are deep at both forward positions, and it’s become clear that even with Blake Griffin away from the team, Doumbouya is facing stiff competition for playing time.

Jerami Grant missed his first game of the season due to rest, clearing the way for Doumbouya to log his second start of the season. The second-year forward tallied three points, four assists and a rebound in 23 minutes. He only made one of his five shot attempts — a rainbow 3-pointer in the first quarter — and his overall performance was a mixed bag.

He started strong, tallying three assists and going 1-for-2 in the opening quarter. His defense was all-around solid. But he had two tough defensive matchups in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, and the fouls piled up. He picked up his fourth and fifth in short order midway through the third quarter, and Dwane Casey promptly checked him out of the game.

Plumlee goes off against the Pelicans, again

Plumlee got his first triple-double against the Pelicans last week, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Detroit’s 123-110 win. The game encapsulated everything that’s made Plumlee one of the Pistons’ most reliable and versatile players this season. He’s an effective rebounder and screener, and among the NBA’s best-passing bigs. The Pistons run much of their offense through Plumlee.

The veteran big man must like the matchup against New Orleans, because he stuffed the stat sheet again. He finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four blocks in 32 minutes while making nine of his 10 attempts. His four blocks were a season-high.

Plumlee flirted with getting a triple double several times this season before he finally did it two Sundays ago. Maybe he’ll get another one before the season is over. Unfortunately for him, Wednesday was Detroit’s final game against the Pelicans this season.

Lee’s hot streak continues

With Delon Wright out of the rotation with a right groin sprain, Lee has flourished. In his previous two games before Wednesday, he scored a combined 33 points on 12-18 shooting and displayed big strides forward as a playmaker.

Pistons forward Saddiq Bey goes to the basket against Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez during the first half in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.
Pistons forward Saddiq Bey goes to the basket against Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez during the first half in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

The two-way point guard continued his run on Wednesday, tallying 13 points, four assists and two steals in 22 minutes while making five of his eight attempts. He also made his lone 3-point attempt, making him 4-for-4 from downtown in his last two games after going 0-2 in his previous nine. The rookie is making rapid improvement and has provided capable play at the point guard position as the Pistons wait for Wright and Killian Hayes to return.

Stewart shows off a new trick

Stewart has been one of the NBA’s best rookie rebounders this season, and he picked up his third-career triple double on Wednesday with 11 points, 10 rebounds and two steals.

His most impressive play came in the first quarter, when he ran a fastbreak by himself and euro-stepped past the Pelicans defense, drawing a foul on the finish. After the 2020 NBA Draft, general manager Troy Weaver said Stewart’s feet was one of the things that stood out during the evaluation process. It isn’t clear if that’s what Weaver was referring to, but it showed that there’s more to his game than he’s shown early in his career so far.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons flat in 2nd half, fall to New Orleans Pelicans 128-118