Detroit Pistons defeat Los Angeles Lakers, 103-86, thanks to Saben Lee’s big night

Detroit Free Press

LAS VEGAS — The Detroit Pistons saw Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes play their best game together on Friday. Both players missed Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, though, and it created an opening for the rest of the Summer League roster to step up.

And step up they did. The Pistons defeated the Lakers, 103-86, and picked up their second straight win without their two lottery picks. Saben Lee finished with 22 points and five assists, and Luka Garza, who has been one of Detroit’s best scorers this week, added 20 points and 14 rebounds. Spencer Littleson finished with 17 points and Jamorko Pickett had his second straight good night, with 13 points and eight rebounds. Saddiq Bey also had 13 points and six assists.

Cunningham missed the game with calf soreness, and Hayes is in concussion protocol after taking a spill during Friday’s game. It’s unclear if either player will play Detroit’s Summer League finale against the Orlando Magic on Monday.

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Lee steps up

Through his first three Summer League games, Lee didn’t look fully comfortable. He had the occasional nice drive and hit a few difficult 3-pointers that weren’t in his arsenal last year. He played most of his minutes alongside Hayes or Cunningham, and on occasion, next to both. One explanation could be that Detroit’s spacing meshed poorly with Lee’s preferred style. But he also struggled to make the right reads when creating for others.

A completely different Lee took the floor Saturday.

His first bucket saw him burst through traffic for a dunk, and it set the tone for the rest of the night. He nearly had the best dunk of Summer League midway through the second quarter, catching a Lakers defender in midair. Lee couldn’t quite bring it down.

The most encouraging element of his night was his shooting. He knocked down two of his three jumper attempts, with his first make a pull-up. His outside shooting might’ve been his biggest weakness last season, mostly because he didn’t have many attempts. Increasing his 3-point rate next season would open up the floor, and help him maximize his gifts.

Pickett continues to separate himself

Pickett was a nice surprise Friday night for the Pistons. He was inserted into the starting lineup — after Sekou Doumbouya left Summer League to attend to a personal matter — and was one of the Pistons’ standouts. Pickettknocked down seven of his 10 shots and went a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc.

He kept that momentum going Saturday, providing more defense and rebounding. He’s a versatile, 6-foot-9 wing who can shoot while occasionally creating for himself. He’s making a strong case for himself to stick around after Summer League is over.

Littleson puts together his best game

On Sunday, Spencer Littleson’s first shot attempt of Summer League let the entire arena know what his best skill is: shooting. He took a 3-pointer, and nearly the entire Pistons bench stood up in anticipation before it splashed in.

Saturday, though, was his best performance of the week, as he hit five of his 10 attempts. He hit a Toledo-record 103 3-pointers during his four-year college career, and was a career 45.9% outside shooter. With Cunningham out, the Pistons needed someone to help fill that void. The Rochester Hills native was as good as advertised.

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

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