The Detroit Pistons nearly gifted the Charlotte Hornets a win. They tied a season high with 23 turnovers, off which the Hornets scored 30 points.
Thanks to some late heroics from Saddiq Bey and Jaden Ivey, though, the Pistons prevailed, 118-112. Bey knocked down a 3-pointer with 32.1 seconds left to give them a 115-112 lead. Ivey had one of his best games of the year, scoring 24 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including a perfect 4-for-4 on 3-pointers, and adding seven assists against just one turnover. Bey scored 22 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 21.
Detroit’s two-big starting lineup returned, and Isaiah Stewart (eight points, 16 rebounds, career-high six assists) and Jalen Duren (13 points, 13 rebounds) had strong games. LaMelo Ball (eight assists, eight rebounds) and Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 23 points apiece.
Ivey leads Pistons in one of his best games
From the first quarter, it was clear that Ivey was primed for a big night. He hit two 3s in the first four minutes, showing early confidence in his jumper. By halftime, he had 13 points — all on jumpers — and four assists. He played with a patience that hasn’t always been present this season. But he saved his best for last.
His seven assists weren’t a career high, but Ivey commanded Friday’s game like a true point guard. With the Pistons trailing by two with four minutes remaining, Ivey helped close out the win with a series of smart plays. On one possession, he found Bey in the corner with a skip pass; later, he drew in the defense and dumped the ball off for Duren, who drew a foul with 3:18 to play. Duren split the trip at the line to get the Pistons within a point.
Bogdanovic later nailed a 3 to give Detroit the lead, and Ivey did his part to help the Pistons hang onto the lead. He knocked down a pair of free throws with roughly two minutes left after Ball tackled him at midcourt, and then found Duren trailing for a dunk to extend the lead to three.
Bey’s game-clinching 3-pointer with 32 seconds on the clock was also generated by Ivey, who drove and gave Duren the ball for a layup. Instead of taking the shot, Duren made the extra pass and found Bey in the corner.
Stewart shines as playmaker in return to starting five
The two-big lineup of Stewart and Duren hasn’t been seen much since Marvin Bagley III underwent surgery to repair two broken fingers in early January. The coaching staff moved Stewart to the bench last Thursday in Brooklyn, sticking with Duren in the starting five.
Stewart and Duren started together Friday for the first time since Jan. 19, and Stewart responded with one of the most well-rounded games of his career. His six assists were a career high, and he showcased his improved feel while transitioning his game from the paint to the perimeter.
While he missed both of his 3-point attempts, Stewart did a good job of keeping his head up and finding open shooters. Isaiah Livers knocked down a corner 3-pointer off of a patient drive-and-kick pass from Stewart toward the end of the first quarter and opened the final period with a similar play to get Bey an open 3.
Pistons happy to be home after extended Dallas stay
What was supposed to be a quick trip to Dallas became an almost week-long excursion for the Pistons, who flew south on Sunday but didn’t make it back to Detroit until Thursday evening. A winter storm led to a surge of flight cancellations across Texas. Per sources, the Pistons had engine trouble after Monday’s game and then were unable to secure the airplane staffing needed to leave on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Their home game against the Wizards on Wednesday had to be postponed.
It wasn’t coach Dwane Casey’s first time getting stuck in a city while on the road — durin g his pregame availability, he recalled being stranded in New York for several days when he was an assistant with the Seattle SuperSonics in the late 1990s. But, he said, this week became a bonding experience for the Pistons, who found time to practice despite their travel woes.
“You have an opportunity to go through something together,” Casey said. “You give into the fact that there’s nothing you can do about the weather. You can’t control that just like sometimes you can’t control whether you make or miss a shot. From that standpoint, guys did a good job of fighting through it, getting through it and I thought our organization did a good job of really trying as much as we could to keep everyone busy, happy. We had some sponsors on the trip that missed a whole week of office time, trying to make it up to them and make it as comfortable as possible.”
Casey said he would have to see if the long layoff would affect Detroit’s energy, which hasn’t been a strong point for the team this season. They mustered enough in the end to snap a two-game skid.
“We’ll find out, because there’s no playbook for it,” Casey said. “Had a good shootaround this morning. It’s about fighting through something and that’s definitely something we’ll have to fight through and go through. I don’t even know if the older guys had been through anything like that before. Definitely the young guys hadn’t. We’ll see.”