Three quick observations from Thursday night’s 122-113 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
NOT ENOUGH STOPS – Interim head coach Rex Kalamian – subbing for Dwane Casey, who missed the game for personal reasons unrelated to COVID-19 – had to be pleased with the Pistons offense. Defensive coordinator Rex Kalamian probably was less than thrilled with the Pistons defense. Indiana scored 70 first-half points and cracked 100 before the third quarter was out, shot 28 free throws and scored 68 points in the paint to keep the Pistons still searching for their first win since last they played the Pacers – Nov. 17, 13 games ago. The Pistons, playing their second game since Jerami Grant was ruled out for a minimum of six weeks with a thumb injury, had one of their better offensive games. Their 49.4 percent shooting mark was the season’s second best. But missing the size of Grant and Kelly Olynyk against the Pacers and their size with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner caught up with the Pistons. Casey wasn’t the only head coach missing. Indiana’s Rick Carlisle missed the game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, replaced by assistant Lloyd Pierce.
LIVERS DEBUTS – Isaiah Livers made his NBA debut, entering the game to start the second quarter and playing the first five minutes. He didn’t come back in the second half when the rotation was shortened by one, so Livers finished with no points, missing both of his shots from the 3-point line. Livers had played only 35 minutes over two G League games and missed all of training camp, preseason and the first several weeks of the regular season while rehabilitating a foot injury that required surgery last spring and ended his Michigan career before the NCAA tournament. Livers showed good instincts and quick hands, registering a steal and a blocked shot in his first five-minute stint. He lined up at power forward on an undersized Pistons second unit with Trey Lyles at center. Livers was the 42nd pick in the 2021 NBA draft after spending four years at Michigan. He won the 2017 Mr. Basketball award in Michigan while playing for Kalamazoo Central.
BEY WATCH – Saddiq Bey isn’t taking that headband off anytime soon. Breaking out of a second-season slump while wearing a headband, Bey got it going early and finished with 28 points, matching his season high, to go with eight rebounds and five assists. Bey came into the game averaging 11.9 points and exceeded that with a 13-point first quarter. He was up to 22 by halftime. Bey’s rebounding has improved this season, averaging 5.8 per game, and he’s taken a broader role within the offense after taking two-thirds of his shots from the 3-point arc as a rookie. It would be a great time for Bey to get untracked given that the Pistons will be without leading scorer Jerami Grant at least through January after he suffered sprained ligaments in his right thumb last week.