Injuries continue to pile up for the Detroit Pistons, but that didn’t stop them from winning their third straight game on Sunday.
The Pistons beat the Indiana Pacers, 121-117, behind a 31-point performance from Saddiq Bey. Detroit was without Cade Cunningham (right hip pain) and Cory Joseph (left lumbar spine strain); they joined Jerami Grant, Marvin Bagley III and Hamidou Diallo in street clothes at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Bey scored his 31 points on 11 shots on 18 and seven of nine 3-point shots, in just under 23 minutes of action. Frank Jackson finished with 19 points, newly signed point guard Carsen Edwards added 13 points and nine assists, and Braxton Key, who was promoted to a two-way contract before the game, added 12 points and nine rebounds.
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Detroit (23-56) led for nearly 17 minutes in the second half and took the lead for good with a 3-point Jackson with about three minutes left in the third quarter. The Pistons led by as much as 12 points in the final period and had one of their best nights of the season behind the arc, toppling a season-high 21 3-pointers on 41 attempts (51.2%) .
The Pistons believe their current momentum will carry over into the offseason. Their young players are playing at a high level, and they will have a high draft pick and cap space to further bolster the roster.
“I said it, our big step will come from our free agency and the picks we get in the draft, add those two guys, whatever it is,” Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said. “The momentum, the level of confidence that these guys are getting right now is sort of similar to what Phoenix did. They added Chris Paul. They had a good bubble, it wasn’t great but good. They rolled it into the summer with confidence These games will give confidence to a guy like Saddiq Bey and guys like Cade coming back next year and what they do now next year will be a big step forward for them.
“They come in and play the right way, they play hard,” Casey continued. “It’s a sign of a good culture, a good work ethic, the professionalism of our guys, because they have every reason to turn it off now and get ready for the summer. But they don’t. They haven’t done. They’re dedicated. They’re pros. That’s what you want to build your team around.”
Bey explodes in the 1st quarter
When Bey warms up, he really warms up. His 51-point performance against the Orlando Magic on March 17 was, of course, a great display of his ability to shoot when he feels it. That night, he scored 21 points in the first quarter and had 30 points at halftime, and knocked down 10 of his first 15 shots.
Bey appeared on track for his second 50-point performance against the Pacers. He failed, but it was still one of his best offensive nights of the season. He scored 21 of his 31 points in the first quarter and hit six 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game.
After playing the entire first quarter, he was limited to just 10 minutes for the rest of the game. It’s late in the season, and Detroit’s coaching staff is prioritizing minutes for marginal players on the roster, such as Key and Edwards.
Edwards makes his Pistons debut
After waiving Chris Smith, the Pistons filled their empty spot on the roster by signing Edwards, a 2019 second-round pick who averaged 26.7 points, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 38.9% on 3 of 8.3 attempts per game with the Salt Lake City Stars of the G League this season.
“He can shoot it, that’s the first thing that comes out,” Casey said before the game. “He’s a maker. He’s a guy who can shoot at any time. He’s a proven goalscorer. That’s something we’re looking to see. It’s the time of year we’re doing well watching different players and not wearing our guys down, these last games with injuries, it’s an opportunity for him to come and see what he has and see if we like him for the future.
Edwards joined the Pistons in Indianapolis around 3 p.m. Sunday. Because the Pistons were without Cunningham, Joseph and Saben Lee, leaving them short of point guards, Edwards ended up playing 31 minutes just hours after his official signing.
He made a solid debut, narrowly missing a double-double. Edwards’ best skill is his outside shooting, and he could get an extended run over Detroit’s last three games, depending on the status of Cunningham and Joseph.
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