Detroit Pistons’ third-quarter surge fuels comeback, win over OKC Thunder, 112-103

Detroit Free Press

It was a tale of two halves for the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

Thankfully, their second half was the better one and enabled a comeback win at Little Caesars Arena.

The Pistons used a 29-8 third quarter run to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit and defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 112-103, to snap a three-game losing streak. Saddiq Bey led Detroit with 25 points, Cade Cunningham tallied a double-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and Jaden Ivey (15 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals) and Isaiah Stewart (11 points, 12 rebounds) also had double-doubles.

Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander paced all players with 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Pistons outscored the Thunder, 64-40, shot 48.9% overall and 6-for-14 from 3 in the second half. The first half was a different story; Detroit shot 35.4% overall and 3-for-19 from 3 before halftime. They also locked down defensively, holding the Thunder to 34% in the second half, and took care of the ball by committing just four turnovers in the second half after coughing it up 12 times in the first.

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Despite slow start, Ivey finds way to make impact

The scouting report on Ivey was evident from the moment he stepped on an NBA floor — he likes to get to the basket, and the best way to slow him down is to encourage him to shoot.

Ivey took the bait against the Thunder, frequently. They were happy to leave him open from 3, and he missed his first five attempts before getting his first one to fall with 3:33 to play until halftime. He’s a much better slasher than shooter, as he entered Monday hitting 31.6% of his outside attempts. His struggles from 3 led to an inefficient first half, as he tallied eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.

The second half was much better. He scored seven points (3-for-3 overall shooting) and grabbed four rebounds in the third for a 15-point, 11-rebound night with six assists, two blocks and two steals through three quarters. Ivey’s shooting is a work in progress, but he has been able to find ways to impact the game even when his shots aren’t falling.

Speaking of rookies, Jalen Duren returned after missing the last two games with a sprained left ankle. In 21 minutes, he had seven points, four rebounds and three blocks.

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Third quarter brings Pistons back to life

It was a horrific first half for the Pistons. It might’ve been a simple case of shots not falling, but they also committed some of their sloppiest turnovers of the season. They just couldn’t find any organization on offense.

In the first two quarters, the Pistons shot 17-for-48 overall, 3-for-19 from 3 and turned the ball over 12 times. Cunningham, Bogdanovic and Ivey were a combined 6-for-28. Many of the turnovers were puzzling. Ivey missed a pass to Cunningham at the top of the key, leading to a backcourt violation. Cunningham coughed the ball up four times in the first quarter, and threw the ball directly into the hands of Thunder defenders on several occasions. Many of their 12 turnovers could’ve been avoided.

The Thunder entered halftime with a 63-48 lead. Detroit was due for some positive regression after missing several wide-open shots in the first half. The third quarter brought that, and more. Detroit used a 29-8 run to take control of the game, leading the Thunder, 77-71, with 5:04 remaining in the quarter after a pair of free throws from Cunningham. The Pistons made 6 of 11 3-point attempts in the third after making just three the entire first half. Cunningham scored 12 points in the period, after entering halftime with just four.

Oklahoma City rallied toward the end of the third to take an 85-84 lead at the conclusion of the period, but Detroit opened the fourth with a 10-2 run to retake control of the game for good.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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