The Detroit Pistons finally got a long-awaited breakout game from struggling forward Saddiq Bey, and for a while, it seemed like the team would have enough to break their 12-game losing streak. Of course, this is the Pistons, and a team that is no stranger to coughing up double-digit leads did it again and was easily outclassed in the second half on the way to a 122-113 defeat.
The Pistons never always seemed to just be one big run away from getting back in the game, or just needing a couple of crucial stops or big rebounds. They never came, and now the Pistons are perilously close to the worst losing streak in franchise history.
But let’s get back to that Bey breakout. Saddiq scored 28 points and shot 52% from the floor including a trio of shots from deep. He was also scoring inside and using his bully-ball instincts to effect. It was nice to see the ball finally go in for Bey on a regular basis, though true to form, he sort of tailed off in the second half.
The Pistons were coached by Rex Kalamian with Dwane Casey sidelined by a non-COVID issue. Kalamian faced the Pacers who were without Rick Carlisle who is out with COVID.
The Pacers were able to withstand some effective offense from Detroit by getting even more of it on the other end, usually through Caris LeVert. Detroit simply had no answers for the wily forward, and even when they forced him to take a tough runner or floater, they seemed to glide into the hoop with ease. It was just one of those nights. LeVert had a game-high 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting.
Other culprits for the Pistons loss? They will sound extremely familiar to the masochists who watch this team on a regular basis. Killian Hayes was a non-factor offensively (2 points on 3 shots), though, it should be noted, he was one of only two Pistons who had a positive plus-minus in his 29 minutes. Hayes played some pretty incredible defense, but he was one of the few players bringing it on that end of the floor.
Another issue — the Pistons bench play, particularly of its “big men” was dreadful. Trey Lyles was ineffective on offense and a turnstile on defense. Frank Jackson continued to impress with 18 points but also got roasted on defense.
Cade Cunningham continues to put his imprint on this team even in his rookie year. He was behind only Bey in shot attempts and scored 19 points, and added six rebounds and four assists.
The game was a disjointed affair from the beginning with both teams simultaneously unable to protect the paint but also unable to establish any sort of flow because of an endless whistle. I don’t know if the refs were trying to belt out some holiday tunes, but the whistles never stopped on either end. The Pistons shot 30 free-throws including a team-high seven from Bey, and the Pacers shot 28.
Isaiah Livers also got his first minutes as a pro after a long absence as he recovered from an offseason injury. He played 4 minutes and missed both his 3-point attempts. But it was great to see him out on the floor.
The Pistons will next play the Houston Rockets on Saturday at Little Caesars Arena, and it’s as close to a must-win as this sad-sack franchise can find this season.