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Cade Cunningham takes over in OT against Washington

A forgotten step forward because he didn’t lead his team to victory

Washington Wizards v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

In Cade Cunningham’s rookie season, Detroit Pistons fans are witnessing potential greatness in real-time, and it is up to Detroit Pistons fans to capture the little and big moments along his path. We are basketball cartographers and beyond-the-archeologists. As such, it is our duty to highlight specific plays. We are creating a historical record, and also providing the building blocks for an end-of-season retrospective. If you’d like to see the full historiography, visit the Cade Cunningham Highlights wing of our Pistons museum.

If Detroit’s thrilling comeback win against the Cleveland Cavaliers left you with pangs of a faint memory, then allow me to refresh you by harkening back all the way to Dec. 8 against the Washington Wizards. In that game, like in Cleveland, Cunningham struggled early. In that game, like in Cleveland, Detroit came back from a double-digit second-half deficit. However, unlike in Cleveland, Detroit couldn’t quite complete the comeback and lost in overtime.

But what an overtime it was for rookie Cade Cunningham, and in retrospect, it seems like it was a sign of things to come. In that game, Cade has his killer gene on full display. Unfortunately, he didn’t claim the trophy.

In the overtime period, Cunningham scored four of Detroit’s five baskets and despite all of the defensive attention being on Cade, he simply couldn’t be stopped.

The first basket makes it a one-possession game. Then Detroit fails to get a stop. The next, and perhaps most impressive basket — a switch onto Kyle Kuzma with a spin toward the rim for the uncontested bucket — once again makes it a one-possession game. The next basket ties the score. Detroit again fails to stop the Wizards, and Cade ties the score again with just over 24 seconds left. Sadly, a Kuzma 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining seals the victory for the Wizards.

This was in the midst of Detroit’s worst stretch of basketball of the season, but maybe we’ll look back on it as the first time Cade Cunningham displayed his affinity for rising to the moment and taking over games in the clutch.

Date: Dec. 8, 2021
Game: 19
Did the Pistons win?: No
Statline: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Shooting: 8/20 (40%), 1/4 from 3 (25%)