The Detroit Pistons finally ended their nearly two month losing streak on Saturday night, defeating the Toronto Raptors 129-127 to snap their skid at 28 games and avoid breaking the NBA record. It marked the first Pistons victory since October 30th.
Backstory – The Streak That Wouldn’t End
The Pistons losses had piled up over the past couple months at a staggering rate, threatening to topple the record for most consecutive losses that the 76ers set in the 2015-2016 season. Detroit’s skid started innocuously enough with a three game slide in early November, but soon ballooned into an unfathomable run of defeats.
As the streak extended into December, the Pistons became a fascination around the NBA. With each new loss, they inched closer to history. Their inability to close out tight games near the end became almost comical.
The Pistons kept finding new heartbreaking ways to come up short. A last second three pointer to send a game against the Celtics to overtime. Falling behind big early against the Nets, battling all the way back only to lose on a final possession. Squandering a 17 point fourth quarter lead to the Timberwolves.
As the streak extended into the holidays, Detroit solidified itself as the league’s doormat. With a record of 7-30, the Pistons seemed destined to make the wrong kind of history.
Down to the Wire – Final Shot Against Celtics Forces OT
In their December 28th matchup with the Celtics, Detroit appeared poised to tie the 76ers infamous streak. Clinging to a one point lead with seconds remaining, Boston’s Sam Hauser heaved up a deep three that splashed through the net as time expired to send the game to overtime knotted at 117.
It was a crushing blow for the Pistons, who had led nearly the entire way. Of course, they proceeded to lose the game in OT, with Jayson Tatum taking over to finish with 43 points.
“We just can’t get out of our own way,” coach Dwane Casey said after the loss. “I feel bad for these guys.”
With the calendar set to flip to 2024 in just three days, it seemed only a matter of time before the Pistons would etch their name in the record books with loss 29.
Celebration – Pistons Finally Break Through
But the Pistons were determined not to let that happen. In their final game of 2023, they faced off against the Raptors in Toronto. It was a back and forth affair throughout, with no team leading by more than seven points.
Rookie Jaden Ivey came up huge for Detroit, scoring 21 points on 8-11 shooting. Big man Isaiah Stewart dominated the glass, pulling down 17 rebounds to go with 19 points. And behind their young core, the Pistons had a real shot to get off the schneid.
Clinging to a two point lead with under a minute left, Detroit buckled down and got the stops they needed. And when Killian Hayes knocked down two clutch free throws, the celebration was on.
“These guys have been through hell,” Casey said. “So I’m thrilled they finally got to taste victory.”
Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey hugged at midcourt when the final buzzer sounded. The team danced in the locker room blasting music. After 28 straight L’s, the Pistons could finally enjoy the sweet feeling of a W.
“It’s the best feeling in the world right now,” Cunningham said. “All that hard work finally paid off.”
Lasting Impact – Record Avoidance Could Boost Morale
The big question now is whether avoiding history can spark a turnaround for Detroit. Snapping extended losing streaks sometimes serves as a momentum building block. Avoiding sole possession of the longest skid could pay dividends in intangibles like confidence and morale.
The Pistons roster is the second youngest in the NBA, filled with players still on their rookie contracts. Detroit hopes this group can grow together into the core of a future contender. Ending this streak with a thrilling win rather than another gut punch loss could fast track that growth.
Cunningham, the 2021 #1 overall pick, is the centerpiece. Ivey looks like a foundational piece as well. With a top 5 pick likely coming in the 2023 draft, the Pistons seem to have promising building blocks.
Whether Saturday’s win over Toronto simply serves as a blip of positivity or the start of something more promising remains to be seen. But after a months long parade of misery, Detroit will happily take this lone bright spot for now.
What’s Next? – Upcoming Schedule Still Treacherous
Any hopes that this victory will spark a hot streak are likely to be dashed quickly, however. The Pistons upcoming schedule is loaded with imposing foes.
|Portland Trail Blazers
|Golden State Warriors
|New York Knicks
And the slate doesn’t get much easier after that gauntlet. So Pistons fans should temper expectations. One thrilling comeback win won’t instantly transform this roster.
But for one night at least, Detroit could celebrate like the weight of the world had been lifted off their shoulders. After 28 straight losses and nearly two months of frustration, the Pistons finally got to smile again thanks to a dramatic win over the Raptors.
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