The Detroit Pistons have the NBA’s worst record and longest losing streak. They may have hit rock bottom with their second-half performance Monday, when they gave away an 18-point lead to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Detroit was outscored 42-22 in the fourth quarter by an opponent that had lost by an NBA-record 73 points in its previous outing. The Pistons will carry a nine-game losing streak Wednesday into their home game against Washington.
Washington enters on a three-game slide, which pales in comparison to the Pistons’ season-long struggle — Detroit has won an NBA-low four games and is on course to get another high lottery pick.
“It’s growing pains,” Pistons forward Saddiq Bey said. “Trying to learn how to finish all four quarters. That’s something we’re trying to go through. It’s a challenge for us.”
Detroit’s starting lineup is composed of 2021 No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham, three second-year players, and forward Jerami Grant. The Pistons looked like they’d end their losing streak against Oklahoma City after they scored 37 points in the first quarter and led by 18 in the second.
They were unable to pull away and the Thunder rallied in the final quarter, taking the lead with a 13-0 outburst.
“We have to play 48 minutes of basketball. We didn’t do that,” Cunningham said. “Just locking in on the game plan and sticking to it for the whole game. I felt there was some spurts we kind of freestyled it and didn’t execute what we were supposed to.”
The defense completely collapsed, as the Thunder made all but two of their 19 fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in the final 12 minutes.
“Very indicative of being a young team,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Until we learn it’s a 48-minute game, play possession by possession … there was a stretch in the third quarter with like four, five turnovers in a row. We’d done a great job in the first half taking care of it. Until we string it together, we’re going to feel like this a lot.”
Cunningham posted his best statistical night of the season with 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists but also committed six turnovers.
The fifth-place Wizards, meantime, lost 116-110 at Indiana on Monday despite 34 points from Bradley Beal. The All-Star guard had not reached the 20-point mark in his previous four games.
“Found a little rhythm tonight; hopefully I’ll keep it going,” Beal said. “But the only thing that matters is winning. Yeah, I found my rhythm, which is a step in the positive direction, but at the same time we’re (4-6) in the last 10 games. That’s a step in the wrong direction.”
The Pacers shot 52.4 percent from the field for the game and led by 10 after the first quarter. The Wizards never led by more than three points during the contest.
Indiana scored 21 points off Washington turnovers.
“It’s tough because, double-digit deficit in the first quarter, now you’re just fighting uphill the whole game,” Wizards first-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Turnovers, obviously, some of them are controllable. … You can’t beat yourself, especially on the road.”
This will be the first of four meetings between the Eastern Conference clubs. They’ll play the second game of the series in February and twice more in March.
–Field Level Media