The long nightmare is over.
The Detroit Pistons, for the first time in 16 attempts, beat the Charlotte Hornets.
But, boy it was not easy.
It ultimately ended with Kelly Olynyk hitting a baseline fadeaway with no time left in overtime. But it was quite the rollercoaster to get to that point.
Detroit looked like they had the game won after a big corner three from Saddiq Bey. But after the Pistons fouled up three and Cade Cunningham missed a free throw, P.J. Washington scored on an offensive rebound and sent the game to overtime.
Jerami Grant, who struggled for much of the game, kept the Pistons in it during overtime with five of his 26 points. Bey added another clutch three which set the stage for Olynyk’s game winner.
After the Hornets blew out Detroit in the two previous meetings, the Pistons fought hard in this matchup and slowed the game down just enough to make Charlotte run just enough half-court offense.
Foul trouble befell Cade Cunningham once again in the first quarter. He had two questionable calls against him within six minutes and sat for much of the half as a result. Without their number one option, Detroit needed to find some offense somewhere.
They found it in the form of Saddiq Bey.
The Villanova sophomore scored 13 of his 28 points in the first half as he knocked down shots from deep as well as showing off his constantly-expanding game off the dribble. Bey has found himself in the second half of the season regardless of who he plays alongside.
Detroit’s other bright spot in the first half was Killian Hayes, who looked for his shot on several occasions while showing off his passing per usual. Hayes ended the game with 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, but within that was the highlight of the night:
This is the best thing Killian has ever done as a Piston pic.twitter.com/CglmRb9FoE— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) February 28, 2022
More telling of anything was that Dwane Casey closed the game with Hayes over Cory Joseph, who struggled during each of his 22 minutes.
In the second half, the game looked like it was starting to slip away from the Pistons a bit after Cunningham committed another early foul and the Hornets started making shots.
Then Kelly Olynyk started unloading from behind the deep line and shots began to fall. Charlotte and Detroit traded a number of three balls but the Pistons kept pace to make it a one possession game inside 5 minutes.
From there, the game was very back and forth with Cade Cunningham making numerous late baskets and Saddiq Bey hitting the offensive boards and scoring just enough to get Detroit the win.
It’s not always pretty, but the Pistons are playing much better in the past couple weeks. The young guys are building confidence and everyone is playing harder. With just over 20 games left in the season, a strong finish may hurt lottery odds but it could be a building block to future success.
- With Marvin Bagley out with an ankle sprain, Isaiah Livers saw his first significant minutes of the year and looked solid. He provides shooting and acts as a great connector on offense. It would be nice to see Dwane Casey find minutes for him down the home stretch.
- The Rodney McGruder magic from 3 ended tonight and it made him a bit of a liability. Frank Jackson’s return should fix that issue.
- Terry Rozier is a menace when playing the Pistons. It’d be nice for Detroit to find someone with that skillset to help when the offense gets stagnant.
- Cade really needs to figure out the fouling. He was unlucky with the whistle tonight, but he does have a tendency to reach way too often.