The national audience got their first look at the first two picks in the draft, Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green. This matchup was so highly anticipated that the Pistons got the ESPN treatment for the only time this season. Both players didn’t guard each other a whole lot, but it was their first of hopefully many showdowns.
The 1st quarter would be short-lived for Cunningham, as he would head to the bench for the rest of the quarter after picking up his 2nd foul 4 minutes into the game.
The Pistons started out hot from beyond the arc, making their first 3 attempts, and jumped out to an 11-2 lead. It looked like they would finally start to get back on track offensivly after a brutal schedule to start the season. However, that was short-lived as the hot start would be followed by 9 straight misses…we keep saying those shots will start to fall, but game-by-game that is looking less likely.
The Pistons would hold a 23-21 lead after the 1st quarter, but it was an ugly quarter. The bench was bad, particularly Cory Joseph, and Saddiq Bey was 0-5.
If you thought things would get better in the 2nd quarter, you thought wrong. Cade Cunningham would not return to the game until the 10 minute mark of the quarter, and Jalen Green started to heat up for the Rockets. The Pistons continued to clank jumpers and the Rockets started to build a lead as former Piston, Christian Wood, and Jalen Green caught fire. Wood would have 17 at halftime and Jalen Green had 11.
The Pistons went on a late run to end the quarter led by Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant with a long buzzer beater 3 by Saddiq Bey to cap it off. The Pistons would trail 50-49 heading into halftime. They did not shoot their first free throws until 45 seconds left in the 2nd quarter and shot an abysmal 39 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3.
It was not Isaiah Stewart’s night, as he left the game with 10:20 in the 3rd after picking up his 4th foul.
Jerami Grant started out the 3rd quarter scoring the Pistons 1st 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting. The offense continued to struggle outside of Grant, but they were able to take the lead 68-66 halfway through the quarter on the shoulders of Grant, who had 13 in the quarter at that point. It would be realtively back-and-forth the rest of the quarter, but the Pistons were able to get enough offense together to build a bit of a lead, 82-79.
Jerami Grant would finish the quarter with 21 points as the Rockets had no answer for him. Jalen Green had a 12 point quarter capped off by a loud dunk in which he yelled at Cade Cunningham after and earned a technical. And as we have come to expect from Cade, he had basically no reaction. Say what you want about each player, but they definitely go about their business differently.
Cory Joseph was very good to start the 4th. He struggled all game, but he was hitting his shots and moving the ball well to start the 4th. It allowed the Pistons to build a bit of a lead while the bench was in. It goes without saying, but all the Pistons guards look better when players actually hit shots. It hasn’t happened a lot this year, but the Pistons finally started to in the 2nd half of this game.
It wasn’t a pretty game at first, but this was the Pistons best game of the season. Jalen Green will get the headlines, as he outscored Cade 23-15, but Cade and the Pistons got a much-needed win after their early season struggles.
Jerami Grant finished the game with 35 points on 12-23 shooting. Cade Cunningham was 2nd on the team with 20 points and hit a couple huge shots down the stretch, and Saddiq Bey got things back on track a bit in the 2nd half and finished with 16 points. Although is still came on a pedestrian 6-of-17 shooting.
The Pistons will take on the surprising Cleveland Cavaliers and number 3 pick, Evan Mobley, on Friday.