The Detroit Pistons may have found their closer.
Cade Cunningham scored two clutch baskets in the final minutes, and Jerami Grant scored 14 of his team-leading 24 points in the fourth quarter to help the Pistons to an exciting 127-121 victory over the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night in Toronto. . Seven Pistons won in double digits.
The Pistons used a 15-6 run in the middle of the fourth quarter, on two 3-pointers each from Grant and Killian Hayes, and one from Josh Jackson, to take the lead which they didn’t give up.
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With the Pistons nurturing a two-possession lead and less than 2:30 remaining, Cunningham (10 points) scored twice over the Raptors ’best defender in the sturdy OG Anunoby, second on a sweet cross and left finishing the glass for 123. -118 edge with 1:23 left. Cunningham finished a 4-for-10 shooting, a 2-for-8 on 3s and split four assists with one turnover.
The Pistons set a new season high with 34 assists, blasting their previous high of 26, and were impressive 24 hours after a rotten 98-78 loss in Cleveland.
Isaiah Stewart scored a season-high 20 points, Hayes had his first career double-double with 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and Jackson scored 15 points to lead a strong bench effort (44 points).
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors (7-7) with 25 points, and Gary Trent Jr. shed 18 of his 23 points in the first half. Toronto was without leading scoring Fred VanVleet (groin). Goran Dragic started in his place and scored 16 points.
The Pistons (3-9) return to Little Caesars Arena – where they are 1-4 – for a five-game home stand, starting Monday against Sacramento. They will then play every other day against Indiana, Golden State, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami.
Hayes does everything
The sophomore point guard is the team’s most polarized player, but he showed off the all-around game that helped make him a coveted player in the 2020 draft. One night after a career-high six steals, 20-year-old Hayes – playing in his 37th career game – had seven points, five rebounds, five assists and one block in the first half. He twice locked in offensive rebounds, moved the ball well and pushed in transition until the defense cut him off, then found Jackson for an open accumulation.
Hayes also showed a rare outburst and aggression in the second quarter by passing Malachi Flynn at the top of the key for an uncontested deposit.
He hit trap 3 from the wing as the Pistons jumped to an 8-0 lead, then hit a back-to-back 3s from the left corner on Grant’s plates early in the fourth quarter for a 105-100 lead. . On the next possession, he flattened Jackson for a pick-and-pop 3 and an eight-point lead.
Defensively, Hayes is still a plus. He cut off Dragic’s drive and blocked the resulting spin jump shot, and used good body positioning and active hands twice on double teams with Cunningham against rookie standout Scottie Barnes, with the second resulting in a turnover.
Hayes may not end up being the pick-and-roll general manager Troy Weaver predicted when he picked him No. 7 overall a year ago, but he shows growth on both ends and looks like a rotating piece if he continues his ascent as. threat to catch and shoot.
Center of attention
After averaging five points over the past six games and 6.9 points for the season, Stewart was ultimately a factor. He flashed his soft hands and got a good look from a smart post-up positioning in 32 minutes of play while he stayed out of the bad trouble that has plagued him lately. Currents from Cunningham and Hayes led to deposits in the first half, then in the third quarter he had three consecutive scores at the edge, twice on Saddiq Bey’s plates. Stewart remained present on defense with a block and showed verticality at the edge on Anunoby’s third-quarter drive resulting in an offensive foul.
In their second match without Kelly Olynyk (knee sprain), Trey Lyles entered the center for Stewart, after Luka Garza was first off the bench on Friday in Cleveland. Garza did not play. Lyles played 17 minutes and was plus-six on the court, scoring eight points and scoring all three field goal attempts. He also played a few minutes alongside Stewart in the second quarter. The Raptors started Siakam in the center, he had four offensive rebounds in the first quarter and seven total, as the Pistons allowed 15 offensive rebounds and were outscored 52-42.
Holding a 123-118 lead in the final minute, the Pistons allowed three straight Raptor offensive rebounds, but survived the possession unscathed when Grant finally bounced back and Bey (16 points) froze the game with two free throws.
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Health is scary
Hayes and Cunningham both came out early in the third quarter with injury scares, but both came back to start the fourth quarter and closed out the game.
Hayes came out less than three minutes into the third quarter after being hit on his left thumb – shooting a hand – that had already caused him to miss a game and was wrapped in black tape. Hayes immediately suffered and sat on the bench with an ice pack on his thumb.
He tested the injury on passes in the tunnel, but returned to start the fourth quarter.
One possession before Hayes ’mishap, Cunningham trimmed his right ankle after blocking a shot, though he stayed in for a few minutes before going to the bench. It’s the same ankle that caused him to miss nearly a month of action in October. He briefly walked into the tunnel and was replaced by Cory Joseph, before eventually returning.
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