Saben Lee has huge night but Detroit Pistons fall to Minnesota Timberwolves, 119-100

Detroit Free Press

It goes without saying, but it’s tough to win basketball games when you give your opponent 34 easy points.

That’s what happened on Tuesday, when the Detroit Pistons (20-50 overall) committed a season-high 28 turnovers — which were converted into 34 points — en route to a 119-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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For those watching the standings, the loss further secured Detroit’s grip on the NBA’s secord-worst record, and, accordinglt, the second-best odds in the draft lottery next month. The Timberwolves improved to 22-47 and have won six of their last 10.

It was a good night for several of Detroit’s young players — particularly Saben Lee, who scored 22 points, a his career high, off of the bench. Lee also dished out five assists. Saddiq Bey added 21 points and hit five of his eight 3-point attempts, and Killian Hayes finished with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Saben Lee’s big game

Lee has been a pleasant surprise for the Pistons this season. The 37th overall pick in 2020 wasn’t on many draft boards, but he was in the top 10 on Detroit’s. And he entered the rotation sooner than many expected, stepping up in late February with Delon Wright injured and Derrick Rose shipped to New York.

Lee has had an up-and-down rookie season, but two of his better games have come in the past week, with 13 points and seven assists Sunday followed by Tuesday’s production.

Lee’s game is a fun contrast compared to his fellow rookie point guard, Hayes. Lee is the superior athlete and far more of a north-to-south scorer, getting most of his points at the rim and free throw line. He made all eight of his attempts at the line against Minnesota, two short of his high.

Killian Hayes continues to settle in

Hayes’ game on Sunday (21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) was a breakthrough performance, as his mindset was clearly different. He embraced scoring in the fourth quarter, tallying 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting in the final period.

After that game, Hayes said he played with a clearer mind, compared to earlier in the season. That carried over to Tuesday. He didn’t score quite as many points, but he made a concerted effort to get all the way to the rim during drives; he didn’t settle for as many floaters and step-back 3-pointers. Compared to January, he’s playing with more burst.

Tuesday also marked Hayes’ 13th straight game with at least five assists, the longest streak for any Pistons rookie since Isiah Thomas had 17 straight during the 1981-82 season.

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

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