The Detroit Pistons have had promising stretches this season.
However, their recent play was... not one of those stretches.
Turns out, the Atlanta Hawks — playing their second game in as many nights — were the perfect remedy. Detroit came out hot and buried the sleep-walking Hawks in the third, leading by as many as 29 points in an 122-101 win at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday.
The Pistons never let their foot off the gas after taking an eight-point lead into the half.
Cade Cunningham’s numbers were merely good — 17 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, which are still REALLY freaking good for a rookie — but his impact was tangible. I know plus-minus isn’t a perfect stat, but Cade was plus-43 tonight.
He was the best and most impactful player on the floor tonight.
It’s hard to pick just one standout, really.
Jerami Grant was efficient with 21 points on 6/11 shooting (and 7/8 from the line) while Isaiah Stewart had a solid 8 points and 10 rebounds, outplaying both Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu of Atlanta. His defense, particularly on switches, was very good:
Saddiq Bey struggled with his shot, but did hit three triples en route to 10 points. Those 3-pointers are significant because they pushed him past Alan Houston for the top spot on the Pistons’ single-season 3-pointers list with 192.
That's a great honor — and one Bey probably could have broke last year in a normal season — for a guy who has really taken a step forward in his sophomore season.
But, yeah, when I said it’s hard to focus on just one guy — I meant it.
The entire bench played well, too.
It starts with Killian Hayes, who scored 13 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 5 assists. This aggressive version of Killian is the best version. Especially when he does stuff like this:
Kelly Olynyk continued a strong string of games with 16 points and 4 rebounds and so did Rodney McGruder with 10 points and 6 assists. Marvin Bagley missed some bunnies and took some bad shots from deep, but finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
His impact is noticeable as a lob threat and finisher at the rim. The sheer fact that he can dunk literally anything within four feet of the basket opens up sooooo much... and is v fun:
The Cade Cunningham and Marvin Bagley connection is electric pic.twitter.com/TokMX5EIMK— HIsiah Thomas (@RedAlternates) March 24, 2022
He’s got a future as a microwave scorer off the bench for these Pistons, I think.
Even Cory Joseph, everyone’s favorite Piston to hate, was good with 10 points.
It was easily the best effort of the season for Detroit, and it comes after one of their more disappointing ones against Portland. When the Pistons are on, they can give anyone a game. That makes playing out the string fun, but can lead to some, uh, complications.
Those relate to the #tank, where the Pistons move to 20-53 with nine games to go. It’s going to come down to Detroit, Oklahoma City, Orlando and Houston for the coveted three spots that yield top lottery odds.
We’ll see how the Pistons balance that down the stretch, but for tonight, they’re winners.