The Detroit Pistons were shorthanded on the road Thursday. Jerami Grant missed the game due to knee soreness, and Mason Plumlee sat out with a concussion.
It didn’t slow the Pistons down at all, as they took care of the Sacramento Kings with ease, 113-101. Detroit led by as many as 22 points and fended off a late Kings run. Sacramento cut the deficit to seven with two minutes left, but the Pistons scored eight of the final 11 points to close the win out.
Cory Joseph scored 24 points and dished out seven assists against his former team, making 10 of his 14 attempts. Isaiah Stewart added 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, and Killian Hayes finished with 11 points and two assists off of the bench.
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In his third game back, Killian Hayes grows more comfortable
With each game, Hayes looks more comfortable. And while he probably would have preferred not to have injured his hip — costing him nearly 30 games during his rookie season — the time off clearly helped him acclimate to the NBA.
Thursday was his best performance yet as a scorer. He played with poise and patience and appears adapted to the NBA’s faster pace. He didn’t look comfortable driving to the rim early in the season, relying on a stepback 3 rather than attacking. He showed off more of his full repertoire against the Kings, hitting floaters and driving the lane when the defense gave it to him.
Before the third quarter buzzer, he darted to the rim and finished a high-arcing layup over the defense. He added a stepback 3 in the fourth quarter — his first since he returned. He finished with two assists, but like his previous two games, he should’ve had more. He is settling in as the Pistons’ best all-around guard. Dwane Casey has said his defense is ahead of his offense; the distance between them is shrinking.
Jahlil Okafor returns after long absence
Thursday was Okafor’s first game since Jan. 30, roughly eight weeks after he underwent knee surgery on Feb. 10. He entered the game in the first quarter.
It was a solid nigh, with 11 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes. If Plumlee misses extended time, it could mean more minutes for Okafor.
Cory Joseph has best outing as a Piston
Joseph has quickly emerged as a key role player since arriving in Detroit from Sacramento before the trade deadline in March. He saved his best performance for his first return to his former city.
He was aggressive early, attacking the lane and finishing the first half with 14 points. Thursday was his first start, and he gave the Pistons an early offensive lift that helped them cruise to an easy win.