If you’re mad, just get it out of your system now. I feel you. I get it.
But, I don’t know, it’s hard to be mad at a game like this. Sure, you could have drawn up the ending a little better — maybe the Pistons young players don’t make big plays down the stretch and the Cavs do — but, like, this is what young teams are supposed to do.
They rode the emotional roller coaster of being up 23 points in the first quarter before falling behind in the fourth quarter. They made dumb mistakes. They made wildly impressive plays.
When the Cavs appeared to be taking control for good, they responded. The kids responded and guided them to a 109-105 win.
Dwane Casey basically threw a team you’d see in the Las Vegas Summer League out there tonight. There were quite a few bright spots, but it all starts with the point guard.
Killian Hayes’ ascent continued as he played one of his best games of the season.
After looking so disjointed early this season, he’s not rushing things much these days. If anything, his struggles are a byproduct of those around him. When Dwane Casey surrounds Hayes with shooters, he does some special things out there.
When he takes away that spacing, he struggles.
We saw both tonight. Hayes controlled the game in the impressive first quarter — one in which the Pistons led by as many as 23 points — feeding Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart easy looks. Just like Troy Weaver and Dwane Casey dreamed of on draft night.
But when he was out there with Jahlil Okafor, Hamidou Diallo and Tyler Cook in the third quarter… the probing stopped because the lack of spacing closed up those driving lanes.
Honestly, the biggest moment of the game wasn’t Bey scoring 18 in the first quarter, or the continued assault on the boards by Stewart, it was three plays Hayes made late.
With the game tied and four minutes to go, Killian wiggled his way to back-to-back jumpers from the free throw line before pushing the Pistons to a 100-99 lead with a pretty alley-oop to Stewart.
Hayes finished with 12 points (5/8 shooting) and 9 assists. He also had five turnovers and wasn’t great defensively, but when he had the ball, he controlled the game when it mattered. You can’t teach that.
Stewart, Bey, Tyler Cook and Frank Jackson were the other standouts.
Stewart finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds and six stocks, outplaying the assortment of big men Cleveland threw out there. It was his third-straight double-double, which is one shy of Greg Monroe’s rookie record.
Bey finished with 20 points, but the 18 he scored in the first quarter were a rookie record, tying Brandon Knight in 2012.
I’m sorry for ruining the mood by citing those stats.
Anyway, Jackson was the other big performance. For a two-way player, he really is instant offense some nights. Other nights, he can be a total zero. Tonight looked like it was going to be a zero as he missed his first four shots.
Then, suddenly, he became Vinnie Johnson, scoring 8 of his 17 points in a 2 minute spurt to end the third quarter. Hell, the dude WON THE GAME with a strong baseline layup in the final seconds.
He’s on a two-way deal, so he’s going to be a restricted free agent this summer… but I’m totally in on the team bringing him back. He’s only 22, he’s shooting 40% from downtown on over three attempts per game. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to keep him around?
Shoutout to Tyler Cook. I don’t know if his future is with Detroit, but he scored 12 points tonight and dunked the crap out of the ball like five or six times. He’s fun.