There was no mistaking the buzz inside Little Caesars Arena for the Detroit Pistons season opener against the Orlando Magic. Pistons basketball was back, and optimistic fans came out to support the direction of the rebuild.
The Pistons defeated the Magic 113-109 in a battle between two young, up-and-coming teams. The home team was led by Bojan Bogdanovic, who made six threes on the way to 24 points.
How It Happened
Rookie Jaden Ivey scored the first basket of the season for either team, and the Pistons started fast, getting out to a 6-2 lead. But sloppy play and leaky defense spurred the Magic to a 28-17 lead after one quarter.
Rookie Paolo Banchero led the Magic and all scorers with 7 points in the opening period.
The once raucous crowd had grown quiet enough that fans could hear the teams calling out plays. Pistons head coach Dwane Casey then made a series of substitutions and the team began to find a rhythm. Behind strong play from rookie Jalen Duren, and strong shooting by Bojan Bogdanovic, the Pistons found themselves with a halftime lead.
Detroit Pistons Second-Half Adjustments
The second half began with improved play from the starers as a unit, as well as better team defense overall. Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic and Cade Cunningham led the third quarter charge with 12 and 9 points respectively. Ivey’s speed, Bogdanovic’s shooting and Cunningham’s all around play gave the home crowd plenty to cheer.
Ivey used his speed and outside shooting on his way to a 10 point third quarter for the 5th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Ivey finished the game with 19 points (2/4 3pt) and 4 assist.
Ivey’s draft mate Jalen Duren achieved a double double in his first NBA regular season game. The youngest player in the NBA finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Cade Cunningham also finished with a double double scoring 18 points and racking up 10 assists.
It was Cunningham’s tenth assist that sent the fans at Little Caesars Arena into a frenzy.
With under 30 seconds to go and clinging to a 108-107 lead, Isaiah Stewart caught a perfect pass from Cunningham and swished a three to seal the game.
In the post game press conference, coach Casey stated that play was designed for Cade, but “he made the right basketball play” by passing to Stewart.
The Pistons aren’t going to take too much time to celebrate this win, with a visit to the ‘Big Apple’ on the schedule.
They play the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Friday, October 21, at 7:30pm.
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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports