A game of Crazy Eights will be played in Detroit on Monday night. The victor will discard a long losing streak.
Oklahoma City and Detroit carry eight-game skids into their matchup. The Thunder were historically bad in their last outing, losing by an NBA-record 73 points to Memphis on Thursday. The Pistons’ most recent game was also on Thursday, when they fell to Phoenix by 11 points.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault decided not to hammer his players after their 152-79 loss, eschewing the usual film breakdown session.
“The lessons that you want the team to take from that game are self-explanatory,” Daigneault said. “I didn’t see a need to double down on that. The feeling that you would try to generate with the film already exists. Letting it breathe I think is almost more powerful than to dwell on the actual visuals of it.”
It’s easy enough for his team to visualize the embarrassment without seeing a replay.
Even though the Grizzlies didn’t have top player Ja Morant due to injury, they shot 62.5 percent for the game and scored 82 points in the paint. Memphis had 29 fastbreak points and outrebounded the Thunder, 53-26.
“That’s going to stay in our head for a long time,” Thunder guard Lu Dort said. “We’ve just got to move on, regroup and look ahead to the next game.”
It’s hard to recall that Oklahoma City was hovering near the .500 mark before the slide started with a seven-point loss to defending champion Milwaukee. All but two of the losses were by single-digit margins until Thursday night’s eyesore.
Top scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander entered the league’s concussion protocol prior to the game after scoring 39 points against Houston the previous night. It’s uncertain whether he’ll play on Monday.
Detroit has only won four games this season. Its current slide began with three home losses. The Pistons then came up empty on a five-game road trip.
Coach Dwane Casey was encouraged that his young backcourt of rookie Cade Cunningham and second-year lottery pick Killian Hayes appear to be meshing. They combined for 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the 114-103 loss to the Suns.
“They play off each other. They’re good for each other,” Casey said. “They’re doing a great job of playing off each other and that’s something Pistons fans should get used to for a long time.”
Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the draft, is averaging 20.0 points over the last three games. However, he’s also committed 16 turnovers during that stretch.
“He’s getting better every game,” forward Jerami Grant said. “Getting more experience and he’s learning, picking his spots — when to be aggressive and when to move the ball.”
Grant has been the main offensive threat during the losing streak, averaging 23.6 points. He had 34 points on Thursday.
The team’s other starting forward, Saddiq Bey, has gone into a shooting slump. He’s shot 23.1 percent (9 of 39) from the field in the last four games, failing to reach double-digit points each time.
The Pistons are beginning a stretch where they play five of eight games at home. Oklahoma City will make a stop in Toronto on Wednesday before returning home for four games.
–Field Level Media