DENVER — The Detroit Pistons played nearly 47 minutes of good basketball on Sunday. They went toe-to-toe with a playoff-bound Denver Nuggets team, weathering several runs and keeping the margin close down the wire.
A layup by Cory Joseph tied the game at 111 with 1:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, bringing the Pistons back from a 16-point deficit at the end of the third quarter.
It was the last bucket Detroit would score, as three turnovers in the final minute allowed Denver to escape with a 117-111 win.
The Pistons committed 22 turnovers, leading to 28 Nuggets points. Six of those turnovers came in the fourth quarter.
our Pistons scored 18 points — Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Stewart and Trey Lyles. Cunningham also had eight assists, five rebounds and six turnovers, Joseph dished six assists, and Stewart made all eight of his shots from the field.
Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic finished with 34 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Killian Hayes returned after missing two games with a right hip contusion and finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Killian Hayes returns, comes off bench
The Pistons took a different approach with Hayes on Sunday, bringing him off of the bench for the first time this season. Before the game, Dwane Casey said the Pistons opted to bring Hayes along slowly as returns from a right hip contusion. Given that it’s the same side of his hip he torn his labrum in last season, so the Pistons exercised caution.
Hayes played almost the entire fourth quarter, and it was one of his better stretches of basketball this season. He knocked down two 3-pointers and dished five assists that led to 11 additional points. It included a touchdown pass to Lyles for a dunk and a tough bounce pass to Stewart, who completed the play by driving his shoulder into Jokic for a layup.
Hayes did nearly all of his damage in the final period, playing 25 minutes. It remains to be seen if he’ll re-enter the starting lineup when the Pistons face the Nuggets for the second and final time this season on Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena.
Isaiah Stewart shows his range during efficient night
At the beginning of the game, Detroit’s offense ran through Stewart. He scored 10 points in the opening quarter, and six of his first seven were scored in the paint. But his fourth bucket was a wide-open 3-pointer, and it foretold how he’d finish the game.
Stewart knocked down three jumpers, punishing the Nuggets for giving him ample space. We’ve seen flashes of Stewart’s midrange and outside game during his two seasons, but it hasn’t become a consistent part of his arsenal. The coaching staff has given him the green light to shoot, and he had one of his best scoring nights on Sunday by taking advantage of that.
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