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Thunder, Pistons meet in search of turnaround

Sportsnaut
Nov 3, 2022; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) high five following a basket against the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Paycom Center. Denver won 122-110. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

As Powerball fever abounds, perhaps it is only fitting that two perennial lottery teams will be competing in Detroit on Monday

The Oklahoma City Thunder will look to end a two-game skid, while the Pistons have lost three straight and eight of their past nine games.

Both teams had multiple picks in the last NBA lottery in June. The Thunder selected Chet Holmgren with the second overall pick, although he is out for the season with a foot injury.

They added forward Ousmane Dieng, the No. 11 pick, in a trade with New York. Dieng has averaged 3.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in the early going, while forward Jalen Williams, the No. 12 selection, has averaged 7.4 points.

Detroit had the No. 5 pick and took point guard Jaden Ivey, who has averaged 15.0 points and 3.3 assists as a starter. Center Jalen Duren, the No. 13 selection who was acquired in a three-team deal, averaged 7.4 points and 6.7 rebounds before missing three games with an ankle sprain.

The infusion of young talent didn’t do the teams much good last week, as the Thunder lost 122-110 to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday and 108-94 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

The Pistons lost to the Bucks twice before getting clobbered 112-88 by short-handed Cleveland on Friday.

The Thunder failed to reach the 100-point mark for the first time in their loss at Milwaukee.

“Playing against the best teams is a great opportunity because it’s the most accurate barometer of where you’re at,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “I thought against that team, you have to work to score, and they make you work. It’s why they’re a great defense. I thought we had some nice attacks and nice possessions but not enough.”

The Thunder were outscored 33-19 in the second quarter and couldn’t recover.

“We gave up 67 points (in the first half). It could have been more,” Daigneault said. “None of us were good in the first half there.”

The Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was held to a season-low 18 points but still is averaging 30.5 points per game.

The second quarter also was the turning point in the Pistons’ loss to the Cavaliers, when they were outscored 33-18.

“We lost our composure,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “It was nip and tuck there for a little while and then all at once they turned up the energy, the defense, and we kind of lost our mind a little bit offensively.”

Detroit’s Cade Cunningham will be looking to bounce back from two subpar performances. He was limited to 10 points in the rematch with the Bucks last week, then had 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting against the Cavaliers.

Bojan Bogdanovic, the team’s second-leading scorer, also has struggled the past two games, scoring a combined 20 points while committing nine turnovers.

“The season’s not going anywhere,” Casey said. “Nobody in the locker room is going anywhere. So we’ve got to lock in, get refocused, recharged, whatever word you want to use, to get back together. Because that’s all it is. The confidence is shaken a little bit.”

–Field Level Media