Josh Giddey’s OKC Thunder, the West’s No. 1 seed, have gone down in the upset of the season in a 120-104 blowout loss to the NBA’s bottom-seeded Detroit Pistons.
It came even more remarkably despite Pistons star Cade Cunningham (knee) being a late scratch for Monday’s (AEDT) contest in Detroit, with Jalen Duren (21 points, 21 rebounds, six assists) and Jaden Ivey (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) shining in more prolific roles.
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The Pistons led 100-86 going into the final term as an upset was brewing in front of a Little Caesars Arena building with excitement.
When it felt like momentum was swinging back towards the Thunder early in the fourth quarter, Ivey hit a huge three from the wing to put the Pistons back up by 17 with 8:14 left in the game.
Giddey was the only Thunder starter to play virtually the entire fourth quarter in what appeared to be a showing from Mark Daigneault to give others greater opportunities to try and will the visitors back in the game.
Even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 31 points in 29 minutes, watched on from the bench for the entire final term.
Giddey made a pair of free throws with six minutes left to get the Thunder back within 14 and continued to lead his side at the offensive end down the stretch. But the Thunder couldn’t get any closer than the 14-point margin in a one-sided affair.
In reality, this one never even felt close again, with Marcus Sasser’s consecutive buckets – a floater then pull-up three – all but closing the door on the result by giving Detroit a 117-98 lead with 3:51 left as Detroit coasted to a big victory.
Giddey just fell short of a double-double with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists and Jalen Williams scored 20.
It marked just the Pistons’ sixth win for the season – now sitting 6-40 overall – as well as their second win from their last three games.
“It’s cool,” Duren said of his first career 20-20 game, but he was more pleased to put up a win after the Pistons lost four of their previous five games.
That included a double-digit loss to the woeful Washington Wizards on Sunday in Cunningham’s first game back from an eight-game injury absence.
“It was big-time,” Duren said of beating the Thunder.
“Especially after yesterday – we didn’t come out nothing like we wanted to yesterday, we were really flat. Today the main focus was keeping that energy.
“We knew what type of team this is, they’ve been playing great this year. We knew we had to come out ready to play.”
OKC, who also have the NBA’s best road record at 15-9, dropped to overall 32-14 to now hold the same record as the West’s No. 2 seed Minnesota.
It means the Thunder and Timberwolves will play for the No. 1 seed in the West on Tuesday, while Minnesota is coming off a loss to the West’s bottom-seeded San Antonio.
“That’s the best thing about the NBA schedule is it keeps turning,” said Daigneault.
“Tomorrow is a new opportunity, obviously a big challenge for us against a team that we just beat on the road. We’ve got to throw our best punch in that game.”
In other games, Canadian guard Bennedict Mathurin came off the bench to score 24 points and lead the Indiana Pacers over Memphis 116-110.
Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam and Jalen Smith each added 19 for the Pacers, who improved to 27-20.
Elsewhere, Saddiq Bey grabbed a rebound and jammed in the game-winning dunk with 1.1 seconds remaining to give the Atlanta Hawks a 126-125 victory over visiting Toronto.
Trae Young had game highs of 30 points and 12 assists for the Hawks while Bey contributed 26 points and 13 rebounds and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 24 points for Atlanta.
Paolo Banchero scored 26 points to lead the Orlando Magic over visiting Phoenix 110-96, the Suns losing despite a 44-point performance from Devin Booker.
Kevin Durant was the only other Phoenix player in double figures as the Suns fell to 26-20, sixth in the West.
Originally published as Giddey’s Thunder smashed by Pistons in upset of NBA season