Detroit Pistons open preseason with 115-105 victory over San Antonio Spurs

Detroit Free Press

You can’t read too far into preseason, but the Detroit Pistons‘ opener on Wednesday was an encouraging start.

Jerami Grant scored 19 points to lead the Pistons to a 115-105 victory at Little Caesars Arena. Josh Jackson scored 16 points off of the bench, and Cory Joseph and Kelly Olynyk scored 14 points and dished six assists each. Saddiq Bey added 13 points.

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Detroit shot 51.1% overall, and led by 17 after the first quarter. The Spurs used a 25-7 run to take the lead in the second quarter, but Detroit used a strong third quarter to re-take control of the game.

Hayes, Cunningham miss opener

It was no surprise that Cade Cunningham would miss his first preseason game after tweaking his ankle early in training camp.

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But Killian Hayes was a game-time decision. He was listed as “questionable” on the Tuesday evening injury report with a sprained left ankle, and it was ultimately too sore for him to play on it. He joined both Cunningham and Frank Jackson, who is also nursing an ankle injury, on the bench. Detroit’s young backcourt will get its next opportunity to play next Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

In their stead, Saben Lee and Rodney McGruder started on Wednesday.

Casey goes deep in rotation

The Pistons will likely stick with a 10-man rotation during the regular season, but coach Dwane Casey intends to play as many players as he can during the preseason. As he said before the game, that’s what preseason is for. Everyone will get a chance to show something, including the rookies at the end of the bench.

All 12 healthy and eligible players saw the floor on Wednesday. Isaiah Stewart, Bey and Grant started alongside Lee and McGruder. The second unit included Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles, Joseph and Olynyk.

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Detroit went cold in the second quarter, but was otherwise in control. Grant scored 11 of his 19 points in the first quarter. Lyles and Olynyk lived up to their billing as shooters, going a combined 5-for-10 from outside. Diallo and Jackson brought energy and athleticism off of the bench. Joseph dictated the pace.

All in all, the coaching staff had plenty of reasons to be pleased with Detroit’s performance. 

Bey diversifies shot selection

The first bucket of the game was a 3-pointer by Bey. The 3-point shot was Bey’s biggest strength last season, and roughly two-thirds of his total shot attempts came from outside.

His shot diet was different on Wednesday, however. He took 11 shots, and only four from behind the arc. Two of his makes were half-spin jumpers just outside the restricted area.

It continued a trend from summer league. Bey’s shot selection was braver in Las Vegas, as he used his body and footwork to create looks inside the arc. It appears to be something that could carry over to the regular season.

Bey is among several Pistons poised to take a step forward this season. He averaged 12.2 points a game last season, but he could seize a larger share of the offense if he can consistently make his 2-pointers as well as space the floor.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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