‘Blessing’ for Saddiq Bey to play after rare injury scare with Detroit Pistons

Detroit Free Press

Two days after suffering a right ankle sprain, Saddiq Bey did his best to keep his playing streak alive.

Bey was listed as “out” on the Nov. 19 evening injury report after exiting in the fourth quarter of the Detroit Pistons’ 128-121 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers a day prior. The following morning, he was upgraded to questionable. He took the floor before the Pistons played the Sacramento Kings, doing his best to prepare his body for his potential 153rd-straight NBA basketball game.

Detroit’s medical team ultimately decided against it. Bey missed the Kings game, his first DNP since Jan. 28, 2021, and flew back to Detroit the next day for rehab. The Pistons managed without him, picking up road wins against the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz before falling to the Phoenix Suns on Friday in a close finish.

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“It’s a blessing from God to be able to play right now, but it was tough, man,” Bey said Sunday after his return. “I really wanted to play in (Sacramento), but the medical staff made a tough decision for my best interest in the future. But it was good watching those games. They had two good games in Denver and Utah and almost won in Phoenix. It was good to see the team play it well. But it was definitely tough seeing it from back home.

“My impact was from afar, texting the guys and letting them know how much I was proud of them, every game that they played, and just tried to rehab as much as possible and tried to rehab to try to be ready today,” Bey added. “It was tough because everybody was on the road trip. Just getting back to my real five-on-five today was good.”

On Sunday, Bey tallied 15 points and five rebounds during the Pistons’ 102-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. His four-game absence tripled his career total of missed games, going from two to six. He only missed the previous games as a rookie, and both were coaching decisions by Dwane Casey. He appeared in all 82 games last season, one of just five players to do so. Bey’s durability has become a key part of his success, and his ankle injury was his first real injury scare since being drafted.

“When it first happened, I didn’t want to see the replay of it,” Bey said. “That initial pain was tough, but after that I was going to try to do whatever it takes to play the next day. Mentally, I was like I’m not going to let it bother me.”

Bey scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and he appeared to wear down as the game progressed. He got on the board early in the first quarter, spinning past Evan Mobley and finishing through contact to complete a three-point play for a 10-2 lead. Bey did most of his damage in the paint; his next three buckets were layups before hitting his first 3-pointer with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter.

In the second half, Bey shot just 2-for-8, including misses on all three of his shots in the fourth quarter. But his first-half energy was a key reason why the Pistons led for nearly 34 of 36 minutes through the first three quarters, before a late 23-10 fourth-quarter Cavaliers run.

“I thought he came back with a focus,” Casey said. “I was concerned about his game conditioning, but he came in and gave us what he had. I thought he was sharp in the first part of the game, and as the game went on he wore down a little bit. It’s understandable with him being out, the timing from games. He’ll get back pretty quick, his game conditioning.”

The Pistons have been dealing with a multitude of injuries. Bojan Bogdanovic missed his first game this season Sunday with right knee and ankle soreness, and Jaden Ivey missed his second straight game with right knee soreness. Isaiah Stewart (right great toe sprain) and Cade Cunningham (left shin soreness) missed their seventh and 10th straight games, respectively.

Bey is back, and Stewart is inching toward a return. The Pistons will likely be without Cunningham for a while, though. Until they get back to full strength, they’ll need Bey at full strength. They missed 12 free throws and shot 3-for-17 on 3-pointers in the second half against the Cavaliers, costing them a close game.

“I thought everybody that played tonight scrapped at some point and gave us what they had, but it’s just the turnovers, decisions in certain situations, passing, and handling,” Casey said. “At the end of the day, you have to make your free throws. We’re doing a good job of getting to the line, creating fouls and creating contact, but now we have to make sure we cash in at the free-throw line.”

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