Detroit Pistons unable to slow down Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown in loss to Celtics, 128-112

Detroit Free Press

For two quarters, the Detroit Pistons managed to avoid a substantial deficit despite shooting the ball poorly. But Jayson Tatum ended any hopes of a Pistons comeback in the third quarter.

Tatum scored 16 of his game-high 31 points in the first five minutes of the third period, helping the Boston Celtics lead by as many as 24 points before defeating the Pistons, 128-112, Wednesday night in Boston. Jaylen Brown (30 points, seven rebounds) and Sam Hauser (24 points, 6-of-12 from 3) also aided the Celtics in a red-hot night that saw them shoot 53.4% overall and 39.1% from 3.

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The Pistons shot just 7-for-33 from outside (21.2%) from outside and got an off night from Cade Cunningham, who finished with a season-low four points on 1-for-11 overall shooting and 0-of-6 shooting from 3 with three rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. Detroit got stronger performances from much of the rest of the roster, as Jaden Ivey (19 points, 10 rebounds, six assists), Isaiah Stewart (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Jalen Duren (10 points, 10 rebounds) all finished with double-doubles, Saddiq Bey scored 18 points and Bojan Bodganovic scored 17 points.

Killian Hayes had a season-best performance with 16 points off the bench.

Ivey’s aggression stands out

Cunningham had his worst first half of the season on Wednesday, setting up one of the worst games of his career. At halftime, he had no points, missing all eight of his shots and tallied only an assist, turnover and foul in 14 minutes and 11 seconds of play.

It should’ve buried the Pistons early, considering they only shot 32.7% overall as a team in the first half. But Ivey’s aggression, as well as some sloppy play from Boston, allowed Detroit to stay within striking distance before Boston pulled away in the third quarter.

Ivey tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in the first half, consistently finding the bottom of the net in a game the Pistons struggled to. His activity helped Detroit stay within single digits for much of the second quarter.

He missed a long 3-pointer early in the period, but knocked down a 3 that same possession after Duren tipped out his initial missed shot to cut the deficit to 34-31. An Ivey steal led to a Bey transition dunk to cut the deficit to 3 once again midway through the second, and he hit a second catch-and-shoot 3 with 2:52 on the clock to bring the Pistons within seven.

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A tough turnaround short midrange jumper over Marcus Smart with 8:13 to play in the 3rd ended up being his final field goal of the night. He might’ve cracked the 20-point threshold had it been a competitive game, but it was still one of the best nights of Ivey’s young career.

Hayes has best offensive night of season

No one on Detroit’s roster needed a strong offensive night more than Hayes. He entered Wednesday’s game shooting 20% overall, and 16.7% from 3. Dwane Casey stated multiple times this week that the Pistons will be patient with him as he sorts through his scoring woes. Hayes took an important step toward finding his rhythm.

His 16 points were a season-high, and the first time this season he’s cracked double-digits in the scoring column. He looked for his shot early and often, knocking down a 3-pointer with 2:46 to play in the 1st and a second one at the 39-second mark that was waived off because of a moving screen by Hamidou Diallo.

Hayes completed a 3-point play with 4.8 seconds left in the third quarter, taking advantage of an isolation play by getting into Derrick White’s body and finishing a layup at an awkward angle. It set up a strong finish, as he scored eight of his 16 points in the final period and made all four of his shots. He opened the period with a short jumper, stepped into a long two-pointer with his foot on the line and finished a gorgeous behind-the-back layup while gliding past Hauser.

Wednesday could be a building block for Hayes becoming a more consistent offensive player. He’s worked hard on his outside shot, and has the touch required to finish at and around the rim. Wednesday was a needed performance from the third-year guard, who is looking to prove he can do more than move the ball and defend.

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

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