The Detroit Pistons continue to struggle offensively and ran into a buzzsaw called Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks offense. The Pistons played some tough first-half defense, but Young and the Hawks got untracked in the second half and started to hit shots, run the floor, and finish alley-oops. In short, they made things look easy, eventually topping the overmatched Pistons 122-104.
Young finished with 32 points and nine assists. I don’t want to show you some of those assists because they are downright disrespectful of the Pistons defenders. Google them. You’ll see. A beneficiary of many of those assists was John Collins who ended the night with 22 points and seven rebounds.
The one bright spot the Pistons will take away from this game is the play of second-year point guard Killian Hayes who has struggled mightily in preseason and in this season’s first pair of games. Long story short, he was averaging 1 point per game.
Tonight, Killian hit some outside shots, was aggressively getting into the lane and either finding a short elbow-jumper opportunity or kicking out to open shooters. He diagnosed the floor well and was able to shake off his initial defender to get into the lane and go into attack mode. He finished with 12 points and three assists.
Hayes needs to continue attacking, and probably be even more aggressive. There were times tonight he was thinking pass first when there were available looks at the rim. He needs to keep going down the hill and learning how to seek contact, play through resistance and figure out how to get separation. The speed is there, and the size is there. The strength is not and his shot is shaky. That means he’s likely to stay a minus on offense, but that doesn’t mean he can’t learn more about what he’s able to do on the floor.
The Pistons, meanwhile, again struggled from the 3-point line and again got next to nothing from their bench. The Pistons aren’t going to win many games when both those things are true.
Cory Joseph and Frank Jackson combined to shoot 2-of-12. The Pistons shot just 27% (9-of-33) from deep. Eventually, those shots will start to fall, but until then this Pistons offense is going to look pretty ugly.
Without Jerami Grant, the Pistons put Kelly Olynyk in the starting lineup and swapped out Josh Jackson for the struggling Frank Jackson. Olynyk played well scoring inside and out and finding open shooters. He finished with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists.
But without Olynyk off the bench, a unit that was already struggling was in absolute shambles. Joseph couldn’t create anything, and nobody could create shots or provide necessary resistance at the rim.
The Pistons were playing from behind most of the night, but the true turning point was in the third quarter after the starters went out.
A Saddiq Bey layup made it 82-75 Atlanta with 3:47 let in the third. Luka Garza came in joining Trey Lyles, Frank Jackson and Cory Joseph. By the end of the third it was 95-79. At the 9:10 mark of the fourth it was 103-81 and the game was effectively over.
The Pistons finish out their road trip in Philadelphia on Thursday and then return home Oct. 30 against the Orlando Magic. Hopefully by then the Pistons are hitting some shots and Cunningham is ready to make his debut.