If you saw the injury report and care even a little bit about the NCAA Tournament, you probably didn’t watch a single second of this game. And I wouldn’t blame you at all if that was the case.
However, you missed a masterful performance by Saddiq Bey.
The Pistons started off this game rough, as they were down 9-0 early and Marvin Bagley exited the game 1:09 into the game after picking up his 2nd offensive foul. That is not a great development when you are at full strength, but it is especially bad when you are short-handed like the Pistons were.
However, the Pistons bounced back quickly with a 13-2 run of their own, and we were off to the races in this track meet. Both teams played little defense and played very fast, which bodes for a fun night offensively if both teams are making their shots. That was the case in this one.
The Magic had no answer for Saddiq Bey. He had 21 points in the 1st quarter as he was going to single-handedly try to will the Pistons to victory. The Pistons also struggled to defend Franz Wagner, who had 11 points in the quarter.
Killian Hayes was flinging the ball around and had 5 first quarter assists, and he could have had a few more. However, some friendly fire late in the 1st from Kelly Olynyk would knock out Hayes for the rest of the game due to a head contusion. The Pistons would trail 39-37 after 1 quarter.
The first part of the 2nd quarter was lower scoring, but it was mainly due to both teams missing more shots as opposed to playing better defense. Without Hayes, Saben Lee had a solid stretch to start out the quarter and the Pistons bench was able to put the Pistons in front before Saddiq Bey returned with 5 minutes left in the 2nd. He made a 3 on the next possession, and him and Isaiah Stewart had their way with the Magic to close out the quarter.
Saddiq Bey would end the quarter with 30 points after a ridiculous fadeaway 2 from the baseline on an inbound, followed by a steal and 3 to end the half. Isaiah Stewart would enter halftime with 13 points, and he scored almost all of them in the quarter. The Pistons would lead 73-62 and not look back.
The Magic started to put more attention on Saddiq Bey on defense, which was to be expected. They threw some double teams at him, which I didn’t think would happen with somebody like Saddiq Bey. He didn’t score until 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter, but just the defensive attention he was generating was creating easy looks for everybody else, so the Pistons were able to grow their lead.
However, the Wagner brothers started to Heat up for the Magic in the 3rd and were able to keep this game closer than it should have been. The Wagner brothers scored 15 straight points for the Magic at one point and combined for 23 of the Magic’s 24 points in the 3rd quarter with 3 minutes left in the quarter. The Pistons lead was down to 6 and we had a game on our hands.
Saddiq Bey started to cool off a bit as he only scored 6 points in the 3rd quarter. He is still at his best when others are creating offense for him, so when the Magic brought more attention his way, he wasn’t able to be as effective as he was in the 1st half. He entered the 4th with 36 points, which is a new career high for him. A late run by the Pistons would put them up 106-94 heading into the 4th.
The Pistons bench was able to use a strong start to the 4th quarter to add onto the Pistons lead and put them in position to cruise to victory. The Pistons were able to force feed Saddiq Bey a bit down the stretch to try to get him to 50, it looked like would come up short. However, RJ Hampton fouled him with 8 seconds left he was able to get 51 points at the free throw line.
The Pistons would win this game, 134-120. Marvin Bagley had yet another solid game with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Isaiah Stewart had 16 points and 9 rebounds.
The big takeaway from this game, is that the Pistons are a better team despite the similar records for the two teams. Both teams were missing some players, but the Pistons were without arguably their two best in Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant.