Ejection cuts short Cade Cunningham’s big day for Pistons

Detroit News

Detroit — Cade Cunningham made a big play, and a few seconds later, he was out of the game.

Cunningham was having one of the best games of his rookie season before he was ejected in the third quarter after getting his second technical foul, Sunday against the Phoenix Suns at Little Caesars Arena.

Cunningham dunked over Suns center Jalen Smith and pointed in the air — either at Smith or at the Pistons’ bench — and the officials gave him his second technical foul, with 4:22 left in the period.

“After he dunked the ball, he was assessed a technical foul for a physical taunt for pointing at the defender,” said Kevin Cutler, the officiating crew chief, in the pool report.

Cunningham already had gotten a technical foul at the 8:41 mark of the third quarter, after saying something to an official, likely about a foul that wasn’t called on an earlier play. He finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting, in 24 minutes.

He said his pointing looked worse than it was because he had family and friends in the stands right behind the Pistons’ bench, the end where the play occurred.

“I had my people right behind the bench. I went baseline to dunk the ball, and (Smith’s) right in between me and my people, so I probably should read that situation better,” Cunningham said. “I don’t really get into taunting too much. I’m usually chilling after the play happens or whatever, but I realized the situation after he teched me up.

“Obviously, I didn’t think I was going to get a tech, so I tried to go holler at (Suns coach Monty Williams) over there and let him know (it was a) good game.”

More: Beard: Five takeaways from the Pistons’ first half of the season

It was Cunningham’s first ejection of the season; he previously had just one technical foul.

At the time, the Pistons were trailing, 89-69.

There were five technical fouls in the game (four by the Pistons), and coach Dwane Casey said they don’t want to get a reputation of a team that complains to officials about calls or missed calls.

“We’re not in a position as a team to complain. Let me be the bad guy (to argue), to fight for us,” Casey said, “but as a young team, we shouldn’t get that reputation of complaining to the officials, and until we get to that level, we’ve got to button up and zip up and play our butts off.”

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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