Omari Sankofa II | Detroit Free Press
Saddiq Bey had an all-time performance as a Detroit Pistons rookie on Friday.
He scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, leading the way to a 108-102 upset victory over the Boston Celtics, an Eastern Conference finalist contender.
Bey hit 10 of his 12 shot attempts, and all seven of his attempts from the 3-point line, setting a franchise record for 3s made by a rookie. He also became the first rookie in NBA history to make at least seven 3-pointers in a game without a miss, according to ESPN Stats & Info,
On a night where Jerami Grant struggled offensively, Bey comfortably stepped up and delivered the best game of his young career. He didn’t make a big deal about it.
“I’m happy we got the win, for sure,” Bey said after Friday’s win in Boston. “This is a blessing to play this game each and every day for a living. I try to stay even-keeled as much as possible, stay humble, but know that I gotta continue to build off of it and help my team win. That’s the kind of mentality I have because there’s so many games.”
Head coach Dwane Casey added that Bey decided to get in a workout immediately after the game. Bey has been described by his teammates as having a veteran’s mentality, and his workman-like approach has paid dividends for him this week after an extended shooting slump.
Bey was the first of Detroit’s three first-round picks to have a breakout game this season, and it coincidentally happened against the Celtics. On Jan. 1, in his second career start, he scored a then-career high 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help guide the Pistons to a 96-93 victory, their first of the season. Through his next eight games, he hit 43.8% of his 3-pointers.
Then his slump hit. From Jan. 18 to Feb. 6, Bey shot 29.4% overall, 21.9% from 3 and only hit seven of his 32 attempts from deep. Neither he or the coaching staff panicked. Ups-and-downs are expected for a rookie, and the best cure for a shooting slump is to keep shooting.
“Coaches just said to keep continuing to work,” Bey said. “Nobody really talked about making or missing shots. It’s just focusing on the game plan and trying to get stops and trusting your ability. Try to keep it simple, man. Never try to complicate things. Keep it simple and continue to work.”
He snapped his slump in a big way Friday. His first shot, a 3-pointer in the first quarter, was routine. Toward the end of the quarter, he drove from the left corner and backed down Grant Williams for a layup — a move that hasn’t been consistent for him this season.
Midway through the second quarter, he rose for a dunk in transition and finished while being fouled by Williams. From there, he didn’t miss another shot. He drained three 3-pointers in the second quarter, two in the third and his final one with about 38 seconds left to give the Pistons a 101-95, game-clinching lead.
It capped a strong week for Bey, as he scored 15 points, all in the fourth quarter, against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and made all six of his shot attempts. The Pistons are optimistic that his slump is fully behind him now.
Detroit Pistons rookie Saddiq Bey talks to media Feb. 12, 2021, after his first 30-point performance in the NBA led to a win vs. the Boston Celtics.
“He’s a special competitor,” Casey said. ”He didn’t lose confidence and he stayed with it, stayed with it. Once he gets his feet set, he’s one of those guys that you feel good when he lets it go.
“He believes in himself, we believe in him and he’s just scratching the surface. I told him after the game, stay hungry, stay humble and he is, matter fact he’s in there getting a workout in right now. I’m very happy for him and the rest of the team to bounce back and show a lot of guts, a lot of pride and a lot of stick to it as a group.”
Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.