It’s over. They did it. The Detroit Pistons won a game. They did not lose. They scored more points than their opponent. They amassed a total of 129 points. The Toronto Raptors only scored 127 points. Nobody left Little Caesars Arena early because the Pistons were blown out again. When the final horn sounded, the crowd at Little Caesars Arena cheered. For the Pistons!
The final two months of 2023 looked like this for the Detroit Pistons:
The star of the game? Early on, it was Kevin Knox, of course. Starting at power forward in place of the injured Isaiah Stewart, the Pistons’ only free agency addition of the season scored 17 points, including key threes and smart cuts to the rim.
Cade Cunningham struggled in many ways for the Pistons tonight, but he still was able to put together a great game. It is as sure a sign as any that Cade is taking important steps in his development toward stardom.
He shot only 1-of-8 from the field in the first half and struggled shooting throughout, but he could distribute and manufacture points by getting himself to the free-throw line, staying aggressive, and attacking the basket. He lived at the line in the third quarter, then started to find the rim from there. He ended the night with 30 points, 12 assists, and zero turnovers.
Perhaps the biggest key to the Pistons finally, mercifully winning a game? A completely lethargic, disinterested, discombobulated performance from the Toronto Raptors. The Raps were playing their third game in four nights and flew into Detroit late after playing at Boston Friday. They also swung a significant trade, sending starter OG Anunoby and rotation pieces Precious Achuwa and Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks for the not-yet-arrived RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley.
Whatever the reason, the Raptors didn’t have it on Saturday. Eventually, players like Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr were able to dig themselves out of their slumber, but it was too little, too late.
Cade Cunningham rediscovered his shooting stroke when it counted, hitting an open 3 with 6:20 remaining to put the Pistons up 107-99. The crowd started to rumble. On the ensuing possession, a crisp Cunningham pass for his 12th assist to an open Jaden Ivey with 5:52 put the PIstons up double digits with 5:52 remaining. The crowd roared. This time, it felt different.
It was. The Pistons won, but they didn’t make it easy on themselves. They had difficulty icing the game with a big lead. Hey, they haven’t been there in a while. Turnovers, fouls, quick offense for Toronto made it close. But the Pistons had enough. Just enough.
The Pistons, for once, gutted out the victory. They won. Finally.
This win ends the streak, but it doesn’t solve any of Detroit’s monumental issues as a team.
Like every franchise, they can look at 2024 as a fresh start. With this win, it will be a bit fresher for Detroit than for most. Breathe, Pistons fans, the losing streak is over.