Three quick observations from Friday night’s 91-87 win over the New York Knicks at Thomas & Mack Center
THE CADE EFFECT – For the third straight game, the Pistons got off to a hot start to build a double-digits lead. And for the third straight game, it dwindled quickly in the second quarter. But the Pistons used a 14-2 run early in the third quarter, sparked by a pair of threes from Cade Cunningham, to take a 17-point lead and held on to win their first Summer League game. When the Knicks used a 14-2 fourth-quarter run to pull within nine points, it was Cunningham with a big triple with four minutes to play to boost the lead back to 12. Cunningham’s presence – and his absence – was the critical element of the Pistons win. When he was on the floor, the Pistons outscored the Knicks by 23 points. He wound up with 24 points, hitting 7 of 10 from the 3-point line, to go with seven rebounds and three assists. It was 20-6 before three straight backcourt turnovers – which came with Killian Hayes and Cunningham on the bench – fueled a 7-0 Knicks run, but the Pistons hit 6 of 8 from the 3-point arc in the first quarter and led 25-13. The Knicks pulled within two points in the second quarter, using a 10-0 run after falling behind by 14, but the Pistons got to halftime leading 36-31.
ROOKIE ROUNDUP – With Isaiah Stewart sidelined for all of Summer League with an ankle injury, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes and Saben Lee represent the 2020 Pistons draft class at Summer League. Bey has focused on contributing in ways other than 3-point shooting after a rookie season in which he led all NBA first-year players in triples made and shot 38 percent from the arc while taking two-thirds of his shots from distance. He finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, including a big one on Immanuel Quickley with 10 seconds to play and the Pistons leading by five. Bey went 2 of 7 from the arc among his 14 shots. Hayes was part of the early 9-0 run, hitting his first 3-point attempt, and finished with even points, five rebounds and six assists, though Hayes hit just 2 of 8 shots and was 0 of 3 inside the 3-point arc. Lee’s night got off to an inauspicious start when he was part of the run of three consecutive Pistons backcourt turnovers that helped the Knicks crawl back in the game from a 20-6 deficit. Lee, whose strength is getting into the paint, had trouble inside the arc this time, finishing 0 of 4 inside the arc. He hit 2 of 5 3-pointers and finished with 13 points. Aside from Cade Cunningham, the four-man 2021 draft class was represented only by Luka Garza this time. Garza started at center – Tyler Cook didn’t play after starting the first two games – and he finished with 10 points, 12 boards and five blocked shots. Isaiah Livers, the 42nd overall pick, remains out and is recovering from spring foot surgery. Balsa Koprivica, the 57th overall pick, did not play.
SEKOU’S SUMMER ENDS – Sekou Doumbouya, who was in the starting lineup for each of the first two Summer League games, wasn’t with the team Friday and won’t play the remainder of Summer League, leaving to attend to a family matter, the team said. In Doumbouya’s absence, the Pistons gave the start to undrafted Georgetown rookie Jamarko Pickett. And Pickett was at the heart of the hot Pistons start, scoring 11 first-quarter points and hitting all four of his shots, including three from the 3-point arc. Pickett finished with 18 points, hitting all four of his 3-point attempts and 7 of 10 overall. Pickett started 109 of his 119 career games at Georgetown and averaged 12.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in the 2020-21 season. At 6-foot-9, Pickett shot 37.3 percent from the 3-point arc.