The Detroit Pistons were without their reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month on Thursday, after. Cade Cunningham exited Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a right hip pointer and was ruled out ahead of the opening tip against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Pistons missed Cunningham, as they didn’t have quite enough firepower to keep up with the ‘Wolves. Minnesota left Little Caesars Arena with a 128-117 victory. Despite leading at the end of the first quarter and at halftime, the Pistons were outscored by the ‘Wolves, 63-50, in the final two quarters.
Frank Jackson led the Pistons with 25 points, Saddiq Bey had his eighth career double-double (21 points, 13 rebounds) and added a career-high eight assists and Jerami Grant had 20 points. Isaiah Stewart also had a double-double (10 points and 13 rebounds).
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Anthony Edwards (25 points) and Taurean Prince (23 points) led Minnesota, and Karl-Anthony Towns added 21 points and 14 rebounds.
It was Cunningham’s 10th missed game of the season, following five at the beginning of the season with an ankle sprain and four more in December and January due to health and safety protocols.
Jackson steps up
No player on Detroit’s roster can singlehandedly fill the variety of roles Cunningham has this season, but Jackson did his best, in one of his best games. Settled in as an off-the-bench scorer, Thursday was Jackson’s third game with at least 20 points, and he was two points shy of his season-high of 27 points.
Jackson has been on an nice run, as Thursday was his 12th time in 15 games reaching double figures. In that span, he’s shooting 38.1% (37-for-97) from 3.
Pistons shake off cold start, but can’t slow Wolves
Poor first quarters have been an issue for the Pistons lately. They were outscored 39-19 in the opening period against the Orlando Magic on Jan. 28 and allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to open the game with a 15-0 run on Sunday.
The Wolves threatened to run away with Thursday’s game in the first quarter, building a 21-11 lead midway through after Edwards knocked down a 3-pointer. But the Pistons responded, with help from their red-hot bench unit. Jackson scored nine points in the first quarter to help the Pistons take the lead, 32-31, at the end of the quarter.
A sidestep 3-pointer by Lyles early in the second extended Detroit’s run to 24-10, and gave the Pistons a 35-31 lead. The Pistons made 16 of 26 shots after starting the game 5-for-13, and Jackson, Bey and Grant all scored in double-figures in the first half.
Minnesota found a rhythm midway through the third and took control for the rest of the night. Three 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the third quarter helped the Wolves take a 103-94 lead entering the fourth. A fastbreak layup by Prince with 7:40 to play extended Minnesota’s lead to 16, 117-101.
The Pistons tried to get back in the game late, using a 16-5 run to cut the deficit to five, 122-177, with 1:35 to play. Jackson scored seven points during the run, completing a four-point play and knocking down another 3-pointer, both from the right corner. But a 3-pointer by Patrick Beverly with 29 seconds remaining iced the game for Minnesota.
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