Careless Pistons get clobbered by Grizzlies on road, Wright injured late

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

In their last loss, the Pistons gave up a 25-point lead in the second half. Against the Memphis Grizzlies, they got the opening basket and never led after that, falling into an early deficit.

They had a hard time getting out.

BOX SCORE: Grizzlies 109, Pistons 95

The Pistons closed within one point midway through the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies rallied and held on for a 109-95 win on Friday night at FedExForum. It’s the second straight loss for the Pistons on their five-game road trip, which continues in Orlando for two games on Sunday and Tuesday.

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Jerami Grant and Delon Wright had 16 points each, Josh Jackson added 15 points and Saddiq Bey 14 points for the Pistons (8-21).

The bigger concern for the Pistons is the outlook for Wright, who sustained what looked to be a groin injury in the fourth quarter, just as the Pistons were making their comeback.

Wright had five points and he pulled up and felt some discomfort and took himself out of the game.

“He said he didn't remember exactly how he did it. That was the scary part,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He got back in transition and felt it. We don't know what the situation is going to be and whether it's serious or not. I guess we'll wait and see how he's doing tomorrow.”

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Wright is the starting point guard and if he’s out for an extended period, it could be trouble for the Pistons, who likely would have to choose between reserves Dennis Smith Jr. and two-way players Saben Lee and Frank Jackson, or potentially veteran Rodney McGruder to lead the offense.

As it was, the Pistons had trouble handling the ball against the Grizzlies, with 21 turnovers that led to 24 points for the Grizzlies. When the Pistons got close, their defense seemed to fail them as well.

“We have to take better care of the ball,” said Bey, who had four 3-pointers. “We had some costly turnovers and we can’t let our offense affect our defense.”

Sekou Doumbouya, who had missed the last three games because of concussion protocol, returned in the fourth quarter and provided a spark, with five points in the first four minutes. Those game in a quick 8-0 run that got the Grizzlies’ lead down to 88-85 at the 8:22 mark.

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They got the lead down to 90-89 with 6:28 left after a lay-in by Mason Plumlee (10 points, 15 rebounds and six assists). A couple of turnovers led to two baskets by Desmond Bane, which pushed the lead back to six. That started a 16-1 run, with seven points by Ja Morant (29 points) that lifted the Grizzlies (13-12).

The Pistons’ slow start didn’t help, with the Grizzlies jumping to a 31-12 lead in the first quarter. The Pistons got going offensively in the second quarter, with three 3-pointers by Bey, that helped them cut the lead to 58-57, but the Grizzlies ran off a12-3 run — with seven points from Morant — to create a cushion.

Morant finished with 13 points in the second period, with little resistance from the Pistons’ defense.

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“His speed and quickness creates a problem. It was everybody guarding the ball and our big guy trying to keep him in front,” Casey said. “It's easier said than done, but he was the main focus of our scouting report as far as pick-and-roll defense and we did not execute it well in the first half.

“I thought we did a better job in the second half, but in the first half, they did whatever they wanted. That's on all of us, as far as the start. I thought we continued to play a little bit like we did in the second half of the Chicago game. In the second half, we put ourselves in position.”

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard