It is no secret that the Detroit Pistons are off to a slow start to the 2022-23 season. The team entered their Nov. 7 matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 2-8 record. However, after the Pistons’ 113-103 victory over the Thunder, the team officially has a better record through 11 games than they did the previous two seasons.
A 3-8 record is not a significant improvement from the team’s 2-9 record at 11 games in 2020-21 and 2021-22, but take the small victories when they come.
After the Pistons took an early lead to start the game. However, the Thunder stormed back to take a 33-28 lead after the first quarter, led Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 16-point first quarter. Gilgeous-Alexander finished the game with 33 points. Oklahoma City extended their lead to 63-48 after Detroit’s offense sputtered in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, it was Cade Cunningham’s turn to take charge. The sophomore point guard led Detroit with 12 third-quarter points. Cunningham finished the game with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He committed five turnovers as well. The Pistons momentarily retook the lead, but Oklahoma City ultimately retained a one-point lead 85-84 entering the final period.
Saddiq Bey led the Pistons’ dominant fourth quarter with 12 points, including six from the charity stripe. Detroit outscored Oklahoma City 28-18 in the closing quarter. Bey finished the game with 25 points and five rebounds.
It was not a pretty game for Detroit. The Thunder defense gave the Pistons fits at times. The team finished the game shooting an inefficient 41.9 percent from the floor and 27.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Here are three takeaways from the Detroit Pistons’ 113-103 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jaden Ivey will not shy away from shooting during a slump
Jaden Ivey did not have his best game shooting the ball for the Detroit Pistons. The rookie shooting guard finished the game six-for-15 from the floor and two-for-seven from three-point range.
The first half was downright ugly for the 20-year-old.
Ivey shot only one-for-five from the floor in the first quarter and two-for-seven in the second quarter. He missed his first five three-point attempts as well. Ivey also committed two poor turnovers in the second quarter.
The Purdue product was out of control for much of the first half. Ivey has a tendency to put the ball on the floor without a plan for what he is going to do with it. Against the Thunder, that tendency was on full display in the first half.
To Ivey’s credit, he kept shooting the ball, and he kept playing with confidence as an on-ball creator. The rookie sank all three of his shots in the second half and took care of the ball with zero turnovers as well. Ivey finished the game with 15 points, albeit on poor efficiency. The rookie did not back down from a poor start.
Ivey recorded the second double-double of his career with 11 rebounds. He added six assists, two steals and three blocks to his stat line as well.
Isaiah Stewart can be a dominant defensive force
Isaiah Stewart has taken a jump in year three. The Pistons’ big man finished the game against the Thunder with 11 points and 12 rebounds a game. Stewart sank one of his two shots from beyond the arc as well.
He was a force to be reckoned with in the paint for the Thunder. Stewart dominated the boards, and on defense used his size and length to disrupt shots and fend off attackers at the rim. He finished the game with two steals and two blocks; however, his aggressive play got him into foul trouble with five fouls on the game as well.
In a season or two, Stewart could make a full transition to power forward. Rookie center Jalen Duren’s development is a major factor in Stewart potentially switching positions down the line. Stewart’s three-point shooting becoming more consistent is another factor as well.
Switching positions could further unlock Stewart’s defensive versatility. The big man has the size to guard most big men in the league, and he has the switchability to stay in front of some guards as well. The Pistons’ coaching staff could get very creative with Stewart defensively if he were to switch to more of a roaming defender than strictly a rim protector.
Stewart has been good this season. He has been a starting quality center for the Pistons. Games like the one he had against the Thunder continue to show glimpses of defensive dominance.
(Featured Image Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports)