The Pistons fought, clawed, and almost produced their most impressive come-back win of the season. Almost. Detroit eventually bowed out 104-98 to the New Orleans Pelicans, who have now won five straight, but they gave the Western Conference’s second place team all they could handle in the process.
It was the second night of a back-to-back for the visiting Pistons, and it appeared midway through the second half, once they fell down 16 points, and had their number one scoring option in Bogdan Bogdanović promptly ejected after netting back to back technicals, that it was going to be a blowout win for the Pelicans. But Detroit refused to lie down, they steadily chipped away at the Pelicans’ lead throughout the third quarter and made the game interesting for the majority of the second half.
Thanks to the stellar play by both Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey, along side a three point barrage in the third quarter (6-10 from deep in that frame), they were able to trim New Orleans’ lead down to six points entering the fourth quarter. The Pistons eventually shrunk the lead to just three points late in the fourth quarter, but to the Pelicans’ credit, they answered every surge Detroit put forth. Timely buckets came from some unlikely sources in Trey Murphy III and Naji Marshall - who combined to score 37 points while shooting 7/13 from three.
New Orleans also rode the big man all night. Zion Williamson was an absolute force in the paint. He scored 18 of his 29 points in the first half, which helped build the ultimately insurmountable lead for the Pelicans. It was an impressive team effort from New Orleans, who were without both Brandon Ingram and Herb Jones.
The man of the night for Detroit was once again Killian Hayes. He was the engine for Detroit throughout the game, whether that be creating his own shots from the mid-range and in transition, or finding teammates for easy looks near the cup. Hayes also played stellar defense on CJ McCollum all night. He had the Pelicans’ vet in a seatbelt, and never let the high-octane scorer get comfortable, forcing turnovers and bad shots repeatedly and ultimately holding him to just 8 points on 3-11 shooting.
Hayes finished the night with 17 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds. One thing to note, that may have changed the outcome of this game. Hayes sat at the end of the third quarter and did not check back into the game until the five minute mark of the fourth. Yes, Detroit was riding him all night, but that’s what you do when a player’s hot and producing the bulk of the team’s offense.
Saddiq Bey also had a stellar performance, he continues to look more and more comfortable in his bench-scoring role and came up with clutch threes throughout the second half. Bey finished with a team high 25 points, and shot 5-10 from three.
At the end of the day, a loss is a loss, and Detroit will look to right the ship when they take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.