Detroit Pistons observations from upset win over Celtics: Saddiq Bey proving he’s legit

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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Friday night was nearly a repeat of the Detroit Pistons‘ first four games. They led big early and fell apart late. 

This time, they managed to hold on — against their best opponent yet. The Pistons defeated the Boston Celtics at Little Caesars Arena, 96-93, for their first win of the season.

They led by 21 early, but Boston used a 7-0 run to take the lead early in the fourth. A late fastbreak layup by Derrick Rose, who had a season-high 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting, gave the Pistons (1-4) a 94-93 lead and enabled them to hold onto the win. 

Boston (3-3) had numerous looks to tie or take the lead, but failed to take advantage. Jaylen Brown’s 3-point shot from the wing hit the front rim with a few seconds to play, enabling the Pistons to survive.

Jerami Grant scored a team-high 24 points, and rookie Saddiq Bey finished with a career-high 17 points and hit 5 of 7 3-point attempts. 

Jayson Tatum had 28 points for the Celtics, with Brown scoring 25.

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Bey has his best game

Bey has earned coach Dwane Casey’s trust. With Blake Griffin missing Friday’s game while in concussion protocol, Bey picked up his second career start, and second of the week. He answered with the best performance of his five-game career.

Bey was one of the best 3-point shooters in college basketball last season with Villanova, and it has been his best skill in the NBA thus far. He made five of his first six 3-pointers and knocked down a late free throw to help the Pistons secure a victory.

He has shown he can thrive behind the arc as a catch-and-shoot threat and make a playf off the dribble, and it has given the Pistons a needed dynamic as they continue to figure out their offensive woes. 

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Rose’s efficiency bounces back 

On the heels of an 0-4 start to the season, Rose accepted responsibility on Thursday. He admitted being rusty following a long offseason, and was shooting 37% in the three games he’d played. It included a rough stretch during Saturday’s collapse against the Cavaliers, when he committed two crushing turnovers in overtime that helped Cleveland complete a comeback win.

“I put that on me, as far as the losses, the turnovers, all that,” Rose said. “Not playing ball or pickup for seven to eight months, and coming right back to it. I’m a little rusty, so I can only imagine what everybody else is going through.”

A strong start and finish to Friday’s game helped to make up for his early season rustiness. He scored 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting in the first half, and had a couple of tough, classic Rose baskets to bail out possessions that would’ve otherwise been lost. 

The Pistons haven’t gotten much scoring from their point guards this season. Killian Hayes had zero points on 0-for-5 shooting vs. Boston, and hasn’t found his rhythm as a scorer. Delon Wright has spent most of his time at shooting guard.

The Pistons, once again, struggled to generate offense in the fourth quarter against the Celtics. Rose regaining his comfort would go a long way toward helping the Pistons maintain their offensive flow. With the game on the line, he made a layup with a minute and 20 seconds left to give the Pistons their final lead of the night. 

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Late collapses remain an issue

The Pistons got off to a hot start, leading the Celtics 27-12 at the end of the first quarter. They shot 12-for-24 in the quarter, and held Boston to 5 of 19. They pushed the lead to 36-15 early in the second quarter.

Despite leading 55-40 at halftime, they couldn’t maintain their momentum, a recurring issue this season. They’ve held double-digit leads in two of their four losses, and had a nine-point lead in overtime against the Cavaliers. 

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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