The Detroit Pistons put together their best shooting night of the season on Sunday. It wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with a lights-out night by the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets shot a scorching 65.3% overall, and 52% from 3, to hand the Pistons a 117-91 loss on the second night of a back-to-back. Kevin Durant, who was ejected in the third quarter after elbowing Kelly Olynyk, led all scorers with 23 points. James Harden added a triple-double with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Cory Joseph led the Pistons (1-5) with 13 points off of the bench, Josh Jackson scored 12 and Jerami Grant added 11. Killian Hayes scored six points and tied his career high with five steals.
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Hayes plays assertive all-around game
Hayes’ sophomore season had been more down than up through the first two weeks. Per usual, he showed flashes of an all-around game. He was a key part of the Pistons’ late run against the Philadelphia 76ers last Wednesday in a near-comeback from a 22-point fourth-quarter deficit. But entering Sunday, he hadn’t yet found his rhythm as a scorer, and struggled to consistently impact the game as a defender and passer.
During the first half of Sunday’s game, we saw a much more assertive Hayes. It didn’t show on the stat sheet — he had six points, three steals and an assist at halftime — but he was impactful on both ends. Hayes drew two shooting fouls on drives to the rim, then knocked down all four free throw attempts. He typically goes to his floater when driving to the rim. By getting his body into the defender, he attempted and made four free throws for the first time in his career. His remaining two points were also scored on a drive, as he made a scoop layup after blowing past Durant early in the first quarter.
He was also active defensively. Midway through the first quarter, he got a steal and found Grant open in the corner, though the 3-point attempt didn’t fall. Hayes drew a charge on Durant on the following Nets possession. In the second quarter, Hayes poked the ball away from Harden to create a transition layup for Frank Jackson and caused Durant to step out of bounds after bodying him up on the left wing. Hayes is a handsy defender, and though a couple of his five steals were thrown to him, he’s capable of creating a lot of disruption on defense.
Diallo gets first start of season
Cunningham missed Sunday’s game a day after making his NBA debut, as the Pistons are still easing in the 2021 No. 1 overall pick after missing a month with a sprained ankle. Hamidou Diallo, who sat out Saturday, started in Cunningham’s place Sunday.
Diallo returned to the Pistons on a two-year deal this offseason, but minutes have been scarce in a crowded backcourt. Sunday was his first game with more than 15 minutes this season. He had a quiet outing, finishing with just six points in nearly 20 minutes, but he knocked down his first 3-pointer early in the third quarter and another in the fourth.
Before the game, Casey said he doesn’t anticipate Cunningham missing many more back-to-backs.
“That was the original plan, that he would play the first game, than be off the next game,” Casey said. “On the back-to-back just coming back after being off a month, it was a prudent thing to do just because of the fact that we don’t want to risk him re-injuring it. We’ll see how he bounces back today, tomorrow, and we’ll get ready to go Tuesday.”
The Pistons’ next game comes Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit against the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
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