Saddiq Bey
(Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bey’s career-high 51 (!) leads Pistons past Orlando


Three quick observations from Thursday night’s 134-120 win over the Orlando Magic at Amway Center

OH, BEY-BEE – If you wondered where the Pistons were going to get their scoring on a night the NBA’s 28th-ranked offense was missing its two leading scorers, look no further than the guy who has yet to miss a game. Saddiq Bey, one of only six NBA players who’s played every game this season, scored 30 points in the first half and finished with a career-high 51, tying Joe Dumars’ franchise record with 10 made 3-pointers in the process. Bey hit 17 of 27 shots, 10 of 14 3-pointers and 7 of 10 free throws. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out four assists and had three steals to overcome the absences of several key players. The Pistons had nearly as much trouble stopping the brothers Wagner – Mo and Franz, who combined for 42 points, 26 for the rookie Franz – as Orlando had with Bey. The Pistons spotted Orlando a 9-0 lead to start the game, recovered to lead by 11 at halftime and stretched it to 16 in the third quarter before the Wagners pulled the Magic back within six late in the third quarter. Marvin Bagley III, starting alongside Isaiah Stewart, finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Pistons went into the game light on their perimeter with Cade Cunningham (non-COVID illness), Jerami Grant (knee inflammation), Hamidou Diallo (hand) and Frank Jackson (back spasms) all missing, then lost Killian Hayes in the first quarter to injury. Bey’s previous career high, 34, came at Milwaukee on Jan. 3.

FINDING A WAY – Being down four key players is one thing, but missing so much of your 3-point threat is another. Without Cade Cunningham, Frank Jackson and Jerami Grant, the Pistons were missing 34 percent of their 3-point attempts on the season despite the fact those three players have missed a combined 65 games. But – go figure – the Pistons didn’t have any trouble launching or making 3-point attempts, especially in a wild first quarter, when they hit 7 of 14. They wound up hitting a season-high 20 3-pointers in 43 attempts. And it wasn’t all Saddiq Bey’s doing. Marvin Bagley III, 3 of 18 from the arc in 10 games with the Pistons, hit 2 of 3 in the first half. Cory Joseph hit 3 of 4. Rodney McGruder and Kelly Olynyk hit a pair each. Bey came into Thursday’s game the runaway leader in 3-point attempts at 508, partially a function of Bey having played all 70 games. But Cunningham, Jackson and Grant ranked 2-3-4 with a combined 804 3-point attempts on the season.

THE OTHER SOPHS – Saddiq Bey’s bonkers night overshadowed the goings on with his classmates from the 2020 draft, but they all were a piece of the storyline. Isaiah Stewart returned from a three-game absence with a bone bruise in his knee in Tuesday’s game at Miami and scored two point, missing all five of his shots and looking like his timing was off on the shots around the rim that are his bread and butter. But he was back in the swim of things at Orlando, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while hitting 7 of 10 shots. Killian Hayes got the start with Cade Cunningham missing, looking to build off a strong stretch of games, but he was KO’d in the first quarter when he and teammate Kelly Olynyk collided and Hayes was dazed, eventually leaving with a head contusion. In eight games since the All-Star break before Thursday, Hayes had 42 assists to only 13 turnovers and he was building off of that early, picking up five assists and zero turnovers in 11 minutes before departing. That left Saben Lee to fill a huge void in the backcourt given the absences of Cade Cunningham and Frank Jackson. Lee finished with 12 points, seven assists, three steals and zero turnovers in 21 minutes.