Detroit Pistons run out of steam in road loss to New Orleans Pelicans, 104-98

Detroit Free Press

The New Orleans Pelicans threatened to put the game away early when they took a 16-point lead early in the third quarter. But on the second night of a back-to-back, the Detroit Pistons showed resolve.

Strong performances from Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes weren’t enough, and the Pistons fell to the Pelicans in New Orleans, 106-98, on Wednesday.

Bojan Bogdanovic was ejected with 9:13 to play in the third quarter after picking up a pair of technical fouls for uttering words in the direction of a referee. Trey Murphy hit two free throws to extend New Orleans’ lead to 61-45. But the Pistons cut the deficit to four with 1:08 to play in the quarter, and stayed within an eight-point margin the rest of the way.

A 3-pointer from Bey with 19.4 seconds left cut the deficit to 100-97, but the shot was overruled to a 2-pointer after a video review revealed his foot on the line. Bey had one of his best games of the season with 25 points on 9-for-17 overall and 5-for-10 shooting from 3, and Hayes added 17 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and two steals. Jalen Duren added a double-double off of the bench with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

TURNING THE CORNER:Killian Hayes’ scoring surge: What it means and why it matters

Zion Williamson led all scorers with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Hayes shines as Pistons show tired legs

Hayes’ 22-point, eight-assist performance in last week’s 131-125 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks — during which he scored 14 points in the final 17 minutes  and two big 3-pointers to clinch the game in the final two — is the most memorable game of the young guard’s career. His performance against the Pelicans wasn’t as theatrical, but it was arguably just as important.

On a night where the Pistons appeared to be on the verge of getting blown out multiple times, Hayes did everything he could to give them a fighting chance. His best stretch came in the third quarter, when he scored or assisted 16 consecutive points to help the Pistons cut a 16-point deficit to six at the end of the period. The run included three 3-pointers by Bey and one by Jaden Ivey, a dunk for Duren and steal and dunk by Hayes.

It was one of Hayes’ best two-way performances. He got the Pistons rolling early with a crossover midrange jumper and a steal and transition dunk to build an early 7-0 lead, and dished four of his 10 assists in the opening period. In the second quarter, he had a stretch where he made CJ McCollum travel after locking him down defensively, assisting Stewart for a 3-pointer and then got in the lane himself for a midrange shot to cut the deficit to two, 42-40.

Hayes’ final field goal was a clutch 3-pointer with 2:20 remaining in the fourth quarter that cut the deficit to 97-94. However, Hayes turned the ball over with 47 seconds left while trying to thread a difficult corner-to-corner pass to Bey, who also did his part to give Detroit a fighting chance. He made a foot-on-the-line midrange jumper with 19.4 seconds left to cut the deficit to four.

Bey snaps slump from outside, thrives off bench

Wednesday was Bey’s best game in more than a month. It was his first time shooting better than 50% overall since he scored a season-high 28 points on 9-for-17 shooting in a win over the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 30. And his five made 3-pointers were his season high.

Bey caught fire in the second half, scoring 18 of his 25 points on 7-for-10 overall shooting and 4-for-6 shooting from 3. He hit three 3-pointers and a driving layup during a 28-18 Pistons run in the third period that cut a 16-point deficit to six at the end of the period, and a 3 and a long 2 in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter to keep the margin close. After shooting 18.6% from 3 in his previous 12 games, it was a needed return to form.

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

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