Superlatives abound when your team wins 135-118 and ends an opponent’s four-game winning streak. But the star of the game for the Detroit Pistons might have been a player who played just 21 minutes and scored two points.
Little-used center Nerlens Noel was pressed into starting duty with injuries to Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart, but his dominant defense in the third quarter turned the tide of the game and allowed Detroit to exert their will on an overmatched Minnesota team.
Noel had four blocks, two steals, and absolutely shut down the paint as Detroit outscored Minnesota 36-23 in the decisive third quarter. And when Noel was delivering his imposing defense, his teammates were able to get out and run and create some offense.
Those points came from some players who desperately needed some bounce-back performances after some recent struggles. Saddiq Bey led all scorers with 31 points and hit four of six 3-pointers. The Golden State game-winner aside, Bey has struggled on both ends of the floor recently and often looked invisible, and it was great to see him deliver an all-around performance.
Speaking of all-around performances, the Pistons back court was sparkling against the Timberwolves. Jaden Ivey scored 18 points, 8 assists and made almost universally good decisions with the ball in his hands. He also hit two three-pointers and his perimeter stroke has looked much more consistent lately.
Killian Hayes bested Ivey with 18 points and nine assists, and he did the majority f his damage in the lane, which is a rare line of attack for the 6-foot-5 point guard. Hayes had an attacking mentality and wasn’t afraid to drive inside, to often very good results.
KILLIAN WITH THE BIG MAN MOVE pic.twitter.com/LqP0NXW5DW— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 12, 2023
The big numbers don’t end there. After a quiet start, Bojan Bogdanovic really got going in the second half and ended the night with 27 points while Hamidou Diallo continues his hot play off the bench with 18 of his own.
On the night, the Pistons shot 60% from the floor and 57% from three, delivering season highs in both categories. Detroit had 30 assists on 48 baskets. The Wolves were led by 20 points from Anthony Edwards, who was actually ruled out for the remainder of the game at one point with a hip issue but apparently argued his way back onto the floor. Rudy Gobert got off to a hot start with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in the first half. But thanks to Noel’s defense and Detroit’s energy, Gobert was limited to just six points and four rebounds in the second half.