‘We wanted a win’: Pistons’ Cunningham unsatisfied with 76-72 loss in Summer League debut

Detroit News

Las Vegas — The Pistons had a good start, but a sloppy second quarter was too much to overcome.

They were sloppy, with 20 turnovers, and couldn’t right the ship in the second quarter, dropping their Summer League opener, 76-72, to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night at Thomas & Mack Center.

In his debut, Cade Cunningham had 12 points, six rebounds and two assists, Saddiq Bey added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Killian Hayes six points, nine rebounds and five assists.

“It was fun to put the jersey on for the first time,” Cunningham said. “We wanted a win out of it … we have a lot from this game to learn from.”

The Pistons had a 26-14 lead after the first quarter, with a 12-0 run that included two 3-pointers by Cunningham, with a pair of dunks by Sekou Doumbouya, but they fell behind, 42-38, at halftime, and struggled to get back into the game the rest of the way.

In the fourth quarter, the Pistons closed within four with 1:22 remaining, but Hayes missed two free throws that would have pulled them within one possession, and they didn’t score again.

“With it being Cade’s first game and the team’s first game, I saw guys start the game off trying to play the right way, moving the ball, trying to play together and using our voices on defense,” said J.D. DuBois, who is coaching the Pistons during Summer League. “We just have to continue — not just Cade, but our whole group — to sustain that for the full 40 minutes.”

Here are some observations from the opener:

► All eyes were on Cunningham, and in his pro debut, he answered the call early, making a pair of 3-pointers on his first two field-goal attempts. The Pistons’ offensive sets called for Cunningham to be in the corner, and when the ball rotated to him, he didn’t hesitate to shoot. The second was a pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the key. He was 2-of-6 in the first half and had three fouls, but he showed that the outside shot (40% on 3-pointers at Oklahoma State) translated to the NBA.

► Hayes primarily ran the offense in the first half, with Cunningham as the lead scorer. In the early minutes, Hayes was facilitating the offense easily, with four assists in the first five minutes. He found Cunningham for both of his 3-pointers, and he got the Pistons off to a 26-14 lead in the first quarter. After that, it was rough sledding in trying to get easy baskets. Hayes had a couple of nice baskets in the lane and on the baseline, and his offensive presence looked improved.

► Bey had an up-and-down game. His ball-handling and rebounding seemed much improved over last season. He created shot opportunities for himself and was aggressive in getting to the rim, but he seemed to force some of those shots, when there were other passing options to open teammates, in some cases. He didn’t seem to find a good rhythm in the game, but that’ll develop with more playing time with them.

► Luka Garza made his pro debut and looked good in some stretches. On the offensive end, he was solid, with a 3-pointer and a couple of baskets at the rim. His strength is on offense, but he seemed to find his spots and moved better than expected on defense. There’s still more work to do there, but in his 13 minutes, he had nine points and four rebounds, which is a good beginning.

► Spencer Littleson, who is from Rochester Hills and played at Adams High School, was one of the first reserves off the bench. He hit his first shot, a 3-pointer, and finished 1-of-5 from the field, all 3-pointers.

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