Only a few days ago the Detroit Pistons were able to break the 14-game losing streak with a COVID-free roster at home against the Miami Heat. Fast forward to tonight and with the news of Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saben Lee and Rodney McGruder joining Cade Cunningham in protocols mere hours before tip-off, tonight's game looked to be one of the most unwatchable in recent memory. With only nine active players on the roster, the visiting Pistons put together some of the most inspired basketball we have seen them play this year.
While the offense was a bit out of sorts to open, Detroit steadied with a pair of back-to-back triples from Frank Jackson and Trey Lyles. A couple of trips down the floor later, Cory Joseph would connect on an above-the-break three-point try, giving the Pistons an early 9-6 advantage. Miami’s latest developmental success, Max Strus, would respond with 7 points of his own to keep the Heat afloat.
Hamidou Diallo was extremely active on both ends of the floor in the opening period. Diallo’s play was instrumental in an 8-0 run for the Pistons coming out of the game's first timeout. The fourth-year wing would finish the quarter with 8 points, 2 boards and a steal. Veteran point guard, Cory Joseph, also did a nice job of setting the table for his teammates, dishing out 5 assists for the quarter.
Detroit closed the quarter tied at 29 apiece with the hometown Heat, largely due to some hot outside shooting. The Pistons shot 54.5% from outside, hitting 6 triples, 3 above their first-quarter average of 2.6. Tyler Herro continued his case for sixth man of the year, entering the game and scoring 8 points, providing his team with a +8 differential in the first quarter.
Detroit opened the second quarter equally as hot as the first, 3 triples between Joesph and Bey put the visitors up 45-39, forcing an early Miami timeout. Coming out of the timeout Miami would score a couple of quick buckets however, from that point Detroit would pile on the points, putting together an 11-0 run and taking a 56-43 lead. Trey Lyles lead the charge, having his best half as a Piston, scoring a team-high 16 points, grabbing 6 boards and protecting the rim with 2 swats.
However, Miami would respond with a 12-5 run to close the quarter behind some tough shot-making from third-year guard, Tyler Herro. Saddiq Bey and Hamidou Diallo provided the Pistons with strong wing play in the first half, combing for 21 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Detroit used an all-round team performance to take a 6 point lead into the half, 61-55.
Uncharacteristically, the visiting Pistons would come out firing to open the second half. Joseph and Bey would again open the period with a pair of triples between them, helping Detroit to a 70-62 lead. Once again though, Max Strus would provide the Heat with a scoring punch, stabilising the offense with his outside shooting and off-ball movement. Strus and company would finally get their outside shots to fall, resulting in an 11-2 run, providing the Heat with a 73-72 lead.
Despite going cold from beyond the arc, Detroit put together some pesky defensive possessions, allowing them to generate points in transition, regaining the lead from the home team, 80-75. Both teams would jostle the lead to close out the quarter, a vintage 5-point outburst from Heat veteran, Udonis Haslem would give the Heat a 88-87 lead entering the final term.
The Heat would punch first in the fourth, behind a pretty pull up jump-shot and transition dunk from Herro, forcing the visiting Pistons into an early time-out, trailing the Heat 94-89. The back and fourth contest would continue with a pair of three points plays from Canadian duo; Lyles and Joesph. Those plays would help tie the scores at 96 a piece with 8 minutes left in the game. Trey Lyles continued his awesome play, scoring 7 points and finishing the night with a career-high 28 points.
The game would be decided in the final two minutes with some incredible shot-making from both teams. Saddiq Bey hit a crucial three with 2:38 left, putting the Pistons ahead 110-105. But Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro would respond with a 7-0 run to take a 112-110 lead, Herro hit a tough fall away three as the buzzer expired. Once again, Detroit would put the ball in the hands of Bey, who delivered with a pull up mid-range jumper to tie the score at 112-112.
The play of the night though would go to Max Strus who delivered a fatal corner three dagger to give the Heat a game-winning lead, 115-112. Strus and Herro shooting, combined with Kyle Lowry’s play-making is what got the Heat across the line tonight. For Detroit there was plenty to like, with a range of contributors in tonight's game. Cory Joseph finished with a season-high 21 points and 9 assists, Bey finished with an efficient 23/10/5 and Frank Jackson contributed 19 important points.
The player of the game though was Trey Lyles, who had arguably his best game as an NBA player. Lyles finished with a career-high 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. While the loss was tough, the players left it all out on the floor tonight and were unlucky to come away with the win. The now 5-26 Pistons have a 3-day break before suiting up against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.