A streak was going to be broken on Thursday night.
The Detroit Pistons took on the Phoenix Suns with a chance to break out of their seven-game losing streak. The Suns entered riding a 17-game winning streak, one victory away from setting a new franchise best.
I’ll let you guess which streak is still going.
Yep, you guessed it!
The Pistons made a valiant comeback in the second half, erasing an 18-point deficit in the third, but Phoenix won its 18th-straight game behind double-doubles from Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton as they topped the Pistons, 114-103.
Even with the Suns missing Devin Booker, Detroit was walking a tight rope tonight.
They looked like a lost cause in the first half as Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes dealt with foul trouble. The reserves were bad, the starters couldn’t defend, and the Suns took advantage — thanks to a big 15-point half from Cam Payne.
Despite trailing by 18 at half, the Pistons fought. It was a huge third quarter run — spurred by a lineup of Cunningham, Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Jerami Grant and Isaiah Stewart — that saw Detroit almost erase the Suns’ big lead.
In all, the Pistons outscored Phoenix 18-2, capped off by a Cunningham triple.
If it weren’t for the officials looking back at a Diallo triple and deciding he was milliseconds late, the Pistons could very well have taken the lead. But the momentum that carried them through the third wasn’t there in the fourth as Phoenix pulled away.
Cade scored 12 of his 19 points in the third, rallying back from three fouls in the first 10 minutes. The fouling and turnovers left something to be desired, but it was the second game in a row where he looked cool, calm and collected out there — no matter the score.
Jerami Grant had a great game, scoring 34 points to go with six rebounds. He fizzled out in the fourth as Mikal Bridges switched from Cade to him.
Really, almost all of the starters looked good.
Killian Hayes had a very productive first half with 10 points. Though he didn’t score in the second, he had the offense running well and finished with six assists. He also hit 2/4 shots from downtown, showing that his early season shooting success might have legs.
Isaiah Stewart also had a strong game with a 12-point, 14-rebound effort against Ayton. He hit a few jumpers and did what he could with Ayton, who is just a tough matchup for him from a size and athleticism perspective.
Really, this was the same story as it is most nights: The Pistons can’t keep up with super athletic teams. The Suns are long, fast and bouncy. They have waves of dudes they can throw at you. The Pistons, on nights where the starters play well like they did today, need their surprisingly surly bench to keep them in it.
The bench was horrendous tonight, as was Saddiq Bey. Dwane Casey appeared to shift to Hami for most of the second half as he was simply better than Bey tonight. He did give Saddiq a chance to finish the game, and he hit a big three, but overall his 2-of-9 shooting left a lot to be desired.
I’ve joked about this, but Bey’s style this year is akin to a Chubby Kobe Bryant. He’s trying to be this mid-range iso star that he isn’t. All of his backing down and pump faking and pivoting is starting to remind me of Carmelo Anthony and how his jab stepping eventually became a meme.
I understand the value in working on your game, but the game Bey is playing right now is not his. He’s faking into tougher shots. He’s passing up open looks to create something else. It’s just a mess. Diallo is low maintenance out there, it made sense to play him.
But, all in all, it was a fun game. The Pistons showed they can hang with the upper echelon of NBA teams on nights when they’re hitting shots. This is one of those “good” losses when it comes to tanking… the opposite of whatever the hell happened in the Grizzlies-Thunder game.
Are you encouraged with tonight? Discouraged? Are you watching Paulo Banchero highlights for the 19th day in a row? Let us know in the comments.