Injuries continue to pile up for the Detroit Pistons, but it didn’t stop them from winning their third straight game on Sunday.
The Pistons defeated the Indiana Pacers, 121-117, behind a 31-point performance from Saddiq Bey. Detroit was without Cade Cunningham (right hip soreness) and Cory Joseph (left lumbar spine strain); they joined Jerami Grant, Marvin Bagley III and Hamidou Diallo in street clothes at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Bey scored his 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting and seven of nine 3-pointers, in just under 23 minutes of action. Frank Jackson finished with 19 points, newly-signed point guard Carsen Edwards added 13 points and nine assists, and Braxton Key, who was promoted to a two-way contract before the game, added 12 points and nine rebounds.
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Detroit (23-56) led for nearly 17 minutes in the second half, and took the lead for good with a Jackson 3-pointer with roughly three minutes left in the third quarter. The Pistons led by as many as 12 points in the final period and had one of their best night of the season from behind the arc, knocking down a season-high 21 3-pointers on 41 attempts (51.2%).
The Pistons believe their current momentum will carry into the offseason. Their young players are playing at a high level, and they’ll have a high draft pick and cap space to further fortify the roster.
“I’ve said this, our big step is going to come from our free agency and the pick we get in the draft, add those two guys, whatever it is,” Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said. “The momentum, the confidence level that these guys are getting right now is sort of similar to what Phoenix did. They added Chris Paul. They had a good bubble, wasn’t great but good. They rode it into the summertime with confidence. These games will give a guy like Saddiq Bey and guys like Cade coming back next year confidence, and what they’re doing now coming into next year will be a huge step for them.
“They’re coming in and playing the right way, playing hard,” Casey continued. “That’s the sign of a good culture, good work ethic of our guys’ professionalism, because they have every reason to turn it off right now and get ready for the summer time. But they haven’t. They’re dedicated. They’ re pros. That’s what you want to build your team around.”
Bey explodes in 1st quarter
When Bey heats up, he really heats up. His 51-point performance against the Orlando Magic on March 17, of course, was an excellent showcase of his shot-making ability when he’s feeling it. That night, he scored 21 points in the first quarter and tallied 30 points by halftime, and knocked down 10 of his first 15 shots.
Bey appeared on track for his second 50-point performance against the Pacers. He fell short, but it was still one of his best offensive nights of the season. He scored 21 of his 31 points in the first quarter and hit six 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game.
After playing the entire first quarter, he was limited to just 10 minutes for the rest of the game. It’s late in the season, and Detroit’s coaching staff is prioritizing giving minutes to fringe players on the roster, such as Key and Edwards.
Edwards makes Pistons debut
After waiving Chris Smith, the Pistons filled their empty roster spot by signing Edwards, a 2019 second-round pick who averaged 26.7 points, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 38.9% from 3 on 8.3 attempts per game with the Salt Lake City Stars of the G League this season.
“He can shoot it, that’s the first thing that comes out,” Casey said before the game. “He’s a maker. He’s a guy that can get his shot at any time. He’s a proven scorer. That’s something we’re looking to see. This is the time of year we’re going to get a good look at different players and not wear our guys out, these last few games with injuries. It’s an opportunity for him to come in and see what he has and see if we like him for the future.”
Edwards joined the Pistons in Indianapolis around 3 p.m. Sunday. Because the Pistons were without Cunningham, Joseph and Saben Lee, leaving them short at point guard, Edwards ended up playing 31 minutes only a few hours after officially signing.
He had a solid debut, just missing out on a double-double. Edwards’ best skill is his outside shooting, and he could get an extended run over Detroit’s final three games, depending on Cunningham and Joseph’s status.
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