The Detroit Pistons hung with the Brooklyn Nets late in Friday’s game. Despite a spirited effort from Cade Cunningham, Kevin Durant was able to ice the game with a handful of clutch buckets.
The Nets defeated the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena, 96-90, but not before an 11-2 run pulled Detroit to within one on a Cunningham 3 with 2:17 to play. But Durant delivered the final blow with a layup with about 13 seconds remaining to give Brooklyn a five-point lead.
Cunningham finished with 17 points, on 6-for-17 shooting, four rebounds and two assists. Kelly Olynyk added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Pistons were without Killian Hayes, who suffered a sprained left thumb during Thursday’s loss to the 76ers.
Durant led all scorers with 29 points, and also had 10 rebounds. Harden added a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Cade Cunningham still rusty, but heats up late
Four games into Cunningham’s NBA career, it’s clear that the rookie is playing himself into shape after missing a month with a sprained ankle. He missed most of training camp, all of preseason and five of Detroit’s first six games. He’s been visibly gassed during second halves.
SHAWN WINDSOR: No, Cade Cunningham is not a bust. Give him time.
Cunningham shot 3-for-11 during the first three quarters on Friday, but made several key buckets late to keep the Pistons in the game. He made a runner with 5:12 on the clock to cut the deficit to eight, and then knocked down a pull-up 3-pointer the following possession to cut the deficit to five.
With 2:17 remaining, he knocked down a clutch corner 3 to cut Detroit’s deficit to one.
Despite his ongoing slump, Cunningham still showcased his strong court vision. He threaded a no-look bounce pass to Josh Jackson in transition in the first quarter, and delivered a touchdown pass to Olynyk for a layup not long after.
Saddiq Bey briefly breaks shooting slump
In his previous four games entering Friday, Bey shot 13-for-47 overall (27.6%). He has been in a season-long slump behind-the-arc, but was initially able to compensate for it by shooting well inside the arc. Since last Saturday’s win over the Orlando Magic, it appears Bey has been finding the right balance between taking 3’s and finding closer looks at the rim.
Bey missed six of his first seven shots on Friday, but briefly found his touch in the third quarter by making four of his seven attempts during the period, including a pair of 3-pointers. He shot 27.7% from 3 during his first eight games — more than 10 percentage points lower than the 38% clip he recorded as a rookie, but shot 2-for-5 from deep on Friday.
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