The Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings engaged in a shootout Wednesday night. And it was the Pistons who held on. Despite giving up 131 points, 45 alone in the second quarter, Detroit won the game 133-131. Saddiq Bey lead the way for the Motor City, finishing with 30 points shooting 56% from the field. It was the veterans, however, who lead the way for the Pistons. Kelly Olynyk, Corey Joseph, and Rodney McGruder combined for 56 points, and Joseph was able to notch the go ahead bucket with 30 seconds remaining.
Detroit Pistons offense carried struggling defense
On a night that saw one of their worst defensive performances this year, the Detroit Pistons offense carried the way. The Pistons allowed Sacramento to shoot 44 free throws, and score 52 points in the paint. Detroit as a team committed 26 total fouls, with Cade Cunningham fouling out in just 21 total minutes. Cade was effective when he was on the court, but lacked discipline on the defensive end. Interior defense continues to be a problem for the Pistons as they allowed the Kings to continue to drive and draw fouls all night. However, Detroit got stops when it mattered most, outscoring Sacramento 13-4 in the final three and a half minutes.
The veterans on the Detroit Pistons showed the importance of their roles tonight, as they lead the way in the fourth quarter. Kelly Olynyk played his first game since November 10th, and looked like he didn’t skip a beat. He scored 22 points, grabbed 9 boards, and even dished 5 assists. In his 22 minutes he affected ever facet of the game and showed why the Pistons signed the veteran big in the offseason. His ability to create offense for himself and others, as well as stretch the floor is a perfect fit on this young team. Corey Joseph started in place of Killian Hayes (right hip contusion) and gave his best performance in a Pistons uniform.
The star of the show for Detroit was Saddiq Bey, as he continues his offensive surge as the season has progressed. The part of Bey’s game that has grown this year is his ability to score efficiently at all three levels. Despite his cold streak from beyond the arc to start the season, Saddiq shot 5-9 from three in Sacramento. Saddiq shot 5-5 from the line as well. Additionally, Bey continues to be one of the strongest rebounders on the team, notching 7 total. This was Saddiq Bey’s third 30 point game of the season. That number will grow if he shoots like that more often.
Kings took foot off the gas, collapse in final minutes
The Sacramento Kings had control of this game for its majority, and allowed Detroit to steal the game towards the end. Sacramento had a strong showing from their backcourt, with Terrence Davis exploding for 38 points and 7 made threes. De’Aaron Fox was able to add 27 points of his own, dishing 8 assists as well. The Kings scored 45 of their points in the second quarter alone, and only notched 60 points in the fourth. Sacramento was without their other dynamic guard in Tyrese Haliburton, who is in health and safety protocols.
This performance out of Sacramento is representative of their season. The Kings are 11 games behind .500 and fired their coach Luke Walton earlier in the year. Key players such as De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Marvin Bagley III continue to be in trade rumors leading up to the deadline. Sacramento is currently a game and a half out of the play in tournament; Even if they get in, the Kings are at a crossroads, and have a lot of questions to answer by the trade deadline. When the Kings and Pistons face off next season, the odds of these teams looking the same are very low.
Detroit gets crucial win in difficult road trip
The Detroit Pistons capitalized on perhaps their best chance to win a game on this four game road trip. Their next two games are both in difficult environments, as they face the Utah Jazz on Friday. Despite Detroit beating the Jazz at home earlier in January, Utah has one of the best home court advantages in the entire NBA. Afterwards, the Pistons will face the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.
On a road trip facing three playoff caliber teams and one just outside the play in, any win is huge. Especially a win that saw the Pistons have to overcome genuine adversity. Detroit will not win many games that saw them struggle defensively like they did tonight, so having their offense play the way they did was critical. The Pistons now have won six games in the month of January, and continue to show growth as the season goes on. Even though the Detroit Pistons made a lot of mistakes, a win is a win. And in this stage of a rebuild, the Pistons will take their wins any way they can get them.