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Pistons vs. Nets final score: Cade ties career-high but Detroit loses a fun one, 130-123

Cade Cunningham and Kevin Durant dueled in the clutch once again.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On a night where the Detroit Pistons’ young guards played some of the best basketball of their careers, they still helped their lottery odds by losing to the Brooklyn Nets 130-123.

Detroit won each of the first two quarters to take a 6 point lead to halftime. They did so on the strength of a very balanced attack. But the real story of the first half was that Killian Hayes was maybe the best player on the floor.

Killian Hayes’ first half was perhaps the best two quarters of his career. He was aggressive while playing within the rhythm of the offense and still played his usual tough defense (four steals on the night). He ended the half with 11 of his 13 points including a three to punish Brooklyn for going under a screen and this beautiful step back that got Johnny Kane and Greg Kelser a bit excited:

Hayes is developing some real chemistry with the bench unit, including with Kelly Olynyk after the two looked out of sync in their early minutes together.

Olynyk was similarly great tonight. He only scored eight points, but he added eight (!) assists. The offense ran through him a lot when he was on the court and Olynyk rewarded Dwane Casey with perhaps his best decision making game of the season.

While Hayes ad Olynyk got Detroit an early lead, Kevin Durant erased it effortlessly in the third quarter. Durant ended the game with 41 points and he was the engine of Brooklyn’s eight point third quarter win to take the lead.

Keeping the Pistons game was Cade Cunningham who was terrific in the second half. Cade had TWENTY-NINE points in the final two quarters, including 17 in the fourth quarter during clutch time. He ended with 34 points on the night which tied his career high.

Cunningham showed his full arsenal in the fourth quarter to even give Detroit a chance to win. He did it from behind the long line, in the mid range, and at the rim against the likes of Durant and Andre Drummond. We’re running out of superlatives to talk about just how good the number overall pick is now and will be in the future.

Speaking of Drummond, he knocked down four straight free throws in the fourth quarter to keep the Nets’ lead just out of reach. It’s like rain on your wedding day.

With the loss, Detroit falls to 20-56 in a three-way tie for the worst record in the league and now 3 losses clear of the Oklahoma City Thunder. If Troy Weaver can add another top talent to this young group that is looking more confident by the game, next year should be a bit more fun.

Other Thoughts:

  • Cade shot 5-11 from deep tonight and all of his misses were just a bit short, which seems to be a trend. That feels far easier to fix than a deeper mechanics/footwork issue. So don’t be surprised if his three-point shooting is a lot better next year.
  • Killian Hayes’ defense really can’t be overstated. He seems to force multiple steals in traffic each night just by how strong his hands are.
  • Oh, and Isaiah Stewart made two threes for the second straight night. He’s stepping into shots confidently despite his regression this year from deep which is nice to see.