San Francisco — Overtime was almost certain.
Klay Thompson had completed his trio of 3-pointers in the final minutes of the fourth quarter with one final dagger to tie the game with just one second remaining. Saddiq Bey, who was defending Thompson, got caught on a screen and could only watch the shot splash through the net.
Fans inside the Chase Center erupted for their beloved hero, who previously exploded for 54 points two nights ago. Thompson skipped around after nailing the shot of the night, which held the title only for a brief moment.
The Pistons placed Killian Hayes as the inbounder and the official nearly called a five-second violation until Bey rushed to catch the ball and simultaneously heaved the game-winning triple at the buzzer, one-upping Thompson’s late-game heroics for a 122-119 victory.
The mild-mannered Bey let out several yells, and the emotion was evident from a player who’s had a season full of highs and lows.
“I’m a competitor at heart,” Bey said after the game. “On the court, I think it’s different for me than off the court. I just had a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. I was a little frustrated I gave up that 3 at the end off that screen. I just really wanted to get it back for our team.”
One by one, Bey’s teammates ran over to hug him as soon as the buzzer sounded. It was quite similar to the celebration the Pistons shared when Bey knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to beat the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 1 of last year.
Hayes tallied a season-high 13 assists in his first game back from his three-game suspension, but none were more important than his final helper to Bey.
“Diq gon’ do what Diq does,” Hayes said. “He’s a shooter, a scorer, great defender as well and he’s not afraid of big time. Last year, he had the same type of buzzer-beater around the same time, actually. When I hit him, I just knew it was a high chance that s— was going in.”
After the game, Bey revealed that he broke the play, which was originally drawn up for Bojan Bogdanovic, who led Detroit with 29 points.
“I was supposed to set another screen, but I wanted the ball so bad,” Bey said. “In the film session, they’ll probably be like, ‘Saddiq, you can’t just break up the play like that,’ but we (practice final-second shots) every day and Coach (Dwane Casey) does a great job of having us prepared.”
“He was on his Kobe s—,” Hayes said. “The play was originally for Bogey, but he didn’t even give Bogey a chance. He called for it and he just went to the other spot and made a great play.”
Bey’s third season has been a rollercoaster of inconsistency. He’s been shuffled in and out of the starting lineup due to roster adjustments and injuries, but he’s remained even-keeled to accept whatever role the Pistons need on any given night. He’s shooting a career-low 32% from the 3-point arc, but he remained confident enough to take the final shot of the game.
Casey said the team executed on offense down the stretch, but had a miscue on defense because they were supposed to foul as soon as the ball was inbounded. Instead, Thompson got open for his clutch 3-pointer and it was subdued by Bey’s triple.
“To me, Saddiq is a sixth starter,” Casey said. “To me, him being on the second unit is no demotion for our organization. He’s responded to it.”
The Pistons avoided their second overtime game of the season thanks to Bey, who could barely remember the aftermath of the final play following his shot.
“It was tough, I don’t really remember,” Bey said. “I kind of blacked out a little bit but I just turned around and really only had one second. I didn’t have much time to think so I had to shoot it. I’m grateful it went in.”
Pistons at Spurs
▶ Tipoff: 8 p.m. Friday, AT&T Center, San Antonio
▶ TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit/950 AM
▶ Outlook: The Pistons (11-30) will conclude their five-game road trip with an opportunity to finish on a winning note against the lowly San Antonio Spurs (12-26). The Pistons have lost seven straight road games in San Antonio, with their last win on Jan. 6, 2015. Bey, who’s coming off a game-winner against the Warriors, nailed a 3-pointer in overtime to claim a 117-116 victory in their last meeting on Jan. 1.