After the Pistons defeated the 76ers on Thursday night, Detroit was coming into this one confident. After all, the level of talent that Detroit faced Friday night was nowhere near the same as the night before. With the Thunder focused on the season ahead, the roster Oklahoma City put on the court was borderline unrecognizable. But Detroit had an extensive injury report of their own, and for the strong portion of the game, Detroit went with their bench unit too. Ultimately, Detroit would defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-101. On the scoring end, it was the battle of the two point guards out of France in the 2020 Draft Class. And Killian Hayes was the shining star of the night.
Pistons guard Killian Hayes finished with a career high 26 points. But it was everything else Killian was doing, his 2 blocks, 5 steals, 8 assists, and rebounds that helped him steal the show. It was the overall aggression that Killian played with that made all of the difference. Hayes took 25 shots, which is way out of the normal range of 7 attempts a game. Another guard on the Pistons roster that had a great night was Frank Jackson. Jackson also finished with 26 points of his own, 17 of which were in the second half. The Pistons pulled away in the third quarter and ended up leading this one by as much as 22 points.
Pistons were Out-Tanked by the Oklahoma City Thunder
In the final games of the season, teams generally have a good grasp of where they lie in the overall standings. And that was no exception for the Pistons and Thunder. The injury report featured key players on both ends, with the Thunder putting out a roster that is made of backups young players getting reps. Detroit was without Jerami Grant, Marvin Bagley, Hamidou Diallo, Corey Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, and others, just to name a few. And for Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey, they were suited up. However, they would only play for 8 and 6 minutes respectively. This was a game that was for the reserves.
For Detroit, the player that received the most game action was Pistons forward Isaiah Livers. And Isaiah Livers had an impressive performance as well, finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds, as well as a block and a steal, and he went 4-5 from beyond the arc. Other notable players who at one point were on the Motor City Cruise roster were Jamorko Pickett, Saben Lee, and Braxton Key. All in all, the three of them all had decent showings with flashes of excellence from each of them respectively. None of them were consistent throughout the course of the game. But nonetheless, these types of reps for players in the system are ones that are valuable. It gives each player a sense of where they need to get better.
Detroit stops in Indiana on Sunday
In what feels like the blink of an eye, the Pistons are officially in their final week of their regular season. It has been a regular season with some ups and a lot of downs. With the Pistons ending their season with a lot of momentum after the all star break, Detroit will begin to shift its focus on the place of their lottery pick this summer. And another game that is going to be important for where that pick ends up takes place on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers and Tyrese Haliburton. However, for the rest of the week the Pistons will play the Mavericks, the Bucks, and the 76ers. Whether or not those teams will play their stars remains to be seen.
From games like these, it’s important to find the takeaways that are meaningful. After all, with the level of talent on the court tonight being vastly different than last night, performances can be a little skewed. Killian Hayes is not going to be given the green light to shoot 25 times every night. However, if he plays with that aggression, it shows the type of effect Killian Hayes can have on a basketball court. This is the closest thing Hayes has experienced to playing in a G League game. That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to appreciate about the way that Hayes attacked. He will get more chances to at the season winds down. Four games remain between now and the offseason.
Follow Sean on Twitter at seanhalfcourt and on YouTube. Also follow WoodwardPistons.
Featured Image Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports