Bey scores 31, Pistons win third straight with 121-117 victory over Pacers
In the first half, Saddiq Bey looked like he was heading for another 50-point game. It didn’t quite end up that way, but Bey had an impressive performance with 20 of his 31 points in the first quarter.
The piecemeal reserve unit held things together, pulled ahead in the fourth quarter and held on for the Pistons’ third straight win, 121-117, over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday evening at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The Pistons (23-56) opened their final week of the regular season with a win, with three games remaining on the schedule.
Frank Jackson finished with 19 points and four assists and Rodney McGruder 13 points and five rebounds. Carsen Edwards, who signed with the Pistons earlier Sunday, had 13 points and nine assists in his debut.
“He had no clue what we were doing; he just walked in off the streets and played hard, played the right way and made the plays that were available to him,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He's a little sparkplug. He did what he's supposed to do; we gave him an opportunity to play and showed us and the rest of the league what he can do.”
Bey made his first six 3-pointers and had 18 of the Pistons’ first 22 points, helping them to a six-point lead. He had a lay-in at the 1:31 mark to finish with 20 in the quarter. Bey played sparingly in the second half – and just 23 minutes in the game – and finished with his seventh career 30-point game, as the Pistons had a season-high 21 3-pointers.
"I try to have the same approach every game,” Bey said. “For me, it's just taking whatever shots are open and staying aggressive."
The Pistons had a 57-53 lead in the final minutes of the second quarter, but the Pacers finished on a 13-5 run and led 66-62 at halftime. The Pistons had a flurry to start the third quarter, with another 3-pointer and a jumper from Bey, and they moved ahead, 79-75, but Oshae Brissett (20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) scored Indiana’s next 11 points, with three 3-pointers.
The Pistons answered with another run to take a 98-91 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Pacers had one more run.
Tyrese Haliburton finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and 17 assists for the Pacers (25-54), who have lost seven straight.
Here are some observations from the Pistons’ win:
1. Carsen Edwards’ debut: After arriving at the arena a couple of hours before tip-off, Edwards looked comfortable in trying to run the offense. He played 31 minutes and had nine assists and just one turnover. Edwards went just 5-of-15 from the field and he had a couple of shots blocked in the paint, but just winging it in the offense in his debut, he’ll find his comfort level. Without Saben Lee, who is with the Motor City Cruise in the G League playoffs, the Pistons needed another point guard, and Edwards was good.
2. Killian Hayes had another strong game: With 10 points and seven assists, he scored in double figures for the seventh time in the last eight games. He’s showing an aggressiveness that could unlock more of the potential. That will give him some confidence heading into the summer and could carry over to next season, which would be a boost for the Pistons.
3. Isiah Livers is a plus: That’s not groundbreaking news, but he continues to make intelligent plays, and Casey has lauded Livers for his basketball IQ. On one play in particular, Livers saw that the shot clock was winding down, and he got the ball from Edwards and made a nice play to get an open 3-pointer from Rodney McGruder. It’s a small thing, but Livers’ maturity and know-how in the offense will be big as he continues to develop.
4. Key makes plays: With another strong showing, Braxton Key is growing each game. Key had a career-best 10 points in the win over Oklahoma City on Friday, and he followed with 12 points in Sunday’s win. He’s showing that he can score from the inside and outside, and defensively, he’s becoming a difference-maker. He was on a 10-day contract but that was converted to a two-way deal earlier Sunday.
5. Watching the standings: With their third straight win, the Pistons moved to 23 wins, ahead of the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets, who have 20, and the Thunder’s 22. With three games remaining, the Pistons have the fourth-worst odds, where their chances of getting the No. 1 overall pick again fall from 14% to 12.5%.
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