How Detroit Pistons’ Cory Joseph shook off blowout by Kings: ‘Just get that rust off’

Detroit Free Press
Dana Gauruder |  Special to Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons’ backcourt lottery picks are going through the learning process of how to deal with adversity.

Backup Cory Joseph knows what he has to do when things don’t go his way. Joseph, the floor leader of the second unit, played just six minutes against Sacramento on Monday.

He blew off some steam, then moved on to the next one. That mentality lifted him to a much-needed offensive outburst and elevated the Pistons to a 97-89 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

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Joseph pumped in a season-high 18 points and played the entire fourth quarter as the Pistons finished the game with a 24-10 run after blowing an 11-point advantage.

“After that (Sacramento) game, I got into the weight room, I ran, made sure I kept my cardio,” Joseph said. “Came in the next day, got into the gym and tried to just get that rust off, get that (bad) feeling off of me. Just tried to lock into this one. That was my thing. That’s what I try to do, especially after those games. And then I was able to get it going early.”

Joseph was the only Piston in double digits at halftime with 10 points. His 3-pointer with 5:47 remaining, off a Cade Cunningham feed, put the Pistons on top to stay.

Joseph had scored in single digits in six of his past seven games but that wasn’t what impressed coach Dwane Casey the most. He was pleased with the way his backup point guard dogged the Pacers’ backcourt threats.

“Caris LeVert is a handful,” Casey said. “I thought he competed against him. I thought he competed against (Malcolm) Brogdon. Everyone who he was assigned to, he competed and that was great for Cory. And it was great for him to see the ball (drop). He hit a big, big 3 when the game was in the balance.”

Cunningham had another spotty offensive night, going 6-for-18 from the field and missing seven straight 3-point attempts (after making his first). The overall stats were still respectable — 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists.

He made some questionable decisions in crunch time — a 3-point try early in the shot clock, a drive into heavy traffic leading to a difficult floating attempt.

“He’s learning what to do in those situations,” Casey said. “He still has a lot to learn because he even had some plays down the stretch you wouldn’t advise and we weren’t trying to look at. But he’s learning. It’s a great experience for him with him being a primary ball-handler right now.”

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Joseph was re-signed during the offseason in large part for his willingness to impart knowledge on Cunningham and last year’s No. 7 overall pick, Killian Hayes. He also had some big offensive games after being acquired from the Kings at the trade deadline last season.

The Pistons declined their option on his $12.6 million salary, which included a $2.4 million guarantee, and let Joseph enter free agency. Their intent was to bring him back at a lower price, and Joseph agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal.

He’s now invested in seeing the top pick blossom.

“Cade is getting better each and every day as a leader and for himself,” he said. “We all know how big of a talent he is. He’s continuing to prove that.”

Joseph proved on Wednesday he’s got something to offer as well, no matter what happened the previous game.

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