Oh, Bey-Bee! Pistons rookie a perfect 7 of 7 from 3 as 30-point night beats Boston
Maddie Meyer (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Friday night’s 108-102 win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden
OH, BEY-BEE! – Nineteen points and eight rebounds off the bench? That’s a great night for anybody. Saddiq Bey did it in the first half at Boston. Josh Jackson came off the bench after the Pistons spotted Boston a 14-4 lead to help change the game, then Bey took over. Bey, whose previous career high was 20 points, finished with 30 – and, fittingly, hit the biggest shot of the game. The Pistons started the game 0 of 7 from the 3-point arc before Bey finally broke the ice for them. He hit his next six straight, going a perfect 7 of 7 from the arc, including one with 38 seconds left to put the Pistons ahead by six. Behind Bey’s shooting, the Pistons turned that early 10-point deficit into an 11-point lead in the second quarter. Boston briefly led by a point early in the third quarter, but the Pistons took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. The were up by eight with 5:10 left, but then went five straight possessions without scoring as Boston pulled within two. Jackson (14 points) ended the drought to set the stage for Bey’s dagger. Bey added a team-best 12 rebounds to go with his 30 points. Bey came into the game with 38 3-pointers, fifth among all rookies. It was his second career double-double. Delon Wright had a big hand in the win with 21 points, six rebounds and seven assists, hitting 7 of 9 shots. The Pistons won the season series 2-1 with the Celtics. Friday’s game was originally scheduled for Sunday but moved to allow the NBA to fit a New Orleans-Detroit game to be played at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.
BLAKE GIVES IT A GO – Blake Griffin hadn’t played on the second night of a back-to-back set in the five previous such circumstances this season, but he gave it a go at Boston with the Pistons severely undermanned up front. Struggling from the 3-point line this season – he came in shooting 30.5 percent from the arc – Griffin hit 3 of 6 from three and finished with 15 points and six assists. His contributions were pronounced on either end. Tied for fourth in the NBA in taking charges – usually the province of defensive specialists or role players – Griffin took three more, minutes apart, in the third quarter to help the Pistons go on a 10-2 run to take a lead they would never lose. Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points while playing 31 minutes a game. His transition to more of a perimeter-oriented game began even before he came to the Pistons four years ago, but Griffin’s 3-point rate this season – the percentage of shots taken from the 3-point line – has jumped to .559, far higher than the .389 that was a career high during his All-NBA 2018-19 season when Griffin made 36.2 percent from behind the line, a career best except for the 40.0 percent he shot in 2014-15 when he attempted only 25 triples in 67 games. After playing 33 minutes in Thursday’s loss to Indiana, Griffin came back and played 35 more at Boston.
CAUGHT SHORT – On a night the Pistons were severely shorthanded in their frontcourt – missing centers Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor and power forward Sekou Doumbouya – the last thing they needed was early foul trouble for the lone remaining center. But rookie Isaiah Stewart, drawing his second straight start when Plumlee (elbow bursitis) and Okafor (left knee surgery) were both unavailable – couldn’t avoid early fouls as he’d done 24 hours earlier in his starting debut. Stewart scored a career-best 17 points in 31 minutes, picking up four fouls, in Thursday’s loss to Indiana but was sidelined with two fouls just 2:14 into Friday’s game at Boston. But the Pistons turned a disastrous start – the two fouls on Stewart, an 0 of 7 start from the 3-point arc leading to a 14-4 Celtics lead – around, pulling ahead 27-23 after a quarter. Stewart managed to avoid undue foul trouble the rest of the night. He picked up his third foul a minute into the second half when he poked Daniel Theis in the face 35 feet from the basket – the kind of foul the Pistons are trying to coach out of the 19-year-old. Stewart wound up giving the Pistons five points and six rebounds in 22 minutes.