Close, but not close enough.
For the second straight year, the Pistons made the championship game at the Orlando Summer League, but came up short again.
The Pistons lost, 83-81, in overtime to the Dallas Mavericks in the title game on Thursday afternoon at Amway Center, after leading for most of the game.
Rookie Luke Kennard had 24 points and five rebounds and Pierre Jackson 22 points and eight assists for the Pistons, who finished 3-2 in the summer tournament for rookies and young players.
Kennard hit a tying 3-pointer with 6.7 seconds remaining in overtime, but the Mavericks’ Johnathan Motley (18 points) hit a go-ahead jumper with 0.3 seconds left. That left just enough time for Jackson to attempt a desperation heave from across halfcourt, but it bounced off the back iron after the buzzer sounded.
Kennard finished 9 of 15 from the field, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. He finished the five-game summer league schedule shooting 48 percent on 3-pointers and averaging 17.2 points.
“We talked about it right from day one: The more you watch him, he’s not afraid of the moment at all,” Pistons associate coach Bob Beyer told Pistons.com. “The way our offense was going, we really struggled in the fourth. The ball was in his hands because I thought he was the one guy that either could make a shot or find someone to get an easy score. And he really, really showed that.”
Henry Ellenson, who had led the Pistons in scoring in summer league at 21 points per game, had just five points on 2-for-10 shooting.
The Mavericks finished 5-0 and won the championship with a shorthanded roster, which was depleted as they prepared for the Las Vegas Summer League that begins this weekend.
Eric Moreland, who signed a contract with the Pistons, finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Galloway, Moreland sign
With the free-agent moratorium ending on Thursday, the Pistons announced two free-agent signings: combo guard Langston Galloway and Moreland. Both agreements had been reported this week.
Galloway, at 6-foot-2, is projected as a backup at both guard positions, as a safeguard in case Reggie Jackson has any other issues with knee tendinitis this year. He played two seasons with the New York Knicks and last season with the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings.
He averaged 7.9 points and 2.1 rebounds and hit 39 percent on 3-pointers, which should boost the bench production behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson. In his three-year NBA career, Galloway is averaging 8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 201 games.
Moreland, at 6-10, 240 pounds, used a good performance in the Orlando Summer League this week to buoy his bid to get an NBA contract. He was active on both ends of the court and impressed the Pistons’ staff. Moreland, 25, reportedly signed a multi-year contract, though the Pistons didn’t release terms of the deal.
He played in the D-League last season and averaged 12.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks with the Canton Charge. He will be the third center behind Andre Drummond and Boban Marjanovic but could get more playing time because of his athleticism.