Killian Hayes seems to enjoy playing the Oklahoma City Thunder. On April 1, last season, he scored 26 points and scored eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals.
He was again the best all-around player for the Detroit Pistons against the Thunder on Tuesday. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the roster struggled to hit shots.
The Thunder defeated the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena, 115-99, to hold Detroit winless in the preseason. The Pistons’ final preseason game is at home against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
Hayes finished with a team-high 20 points on 8-for-13 overall shooting and 4-for-6 shooting for 3, and had seven assists. Saddiq Bey scored 19 points and Jalen Duren grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. Cade Cunningham (10 points, 3-for-13 overall shooting, eight rebounds) and Jaden Ivey (11 points, 4-for-12 shooting) both had bad nights.
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Marvin Bagley III left the game early in the first quarter with a right knee injury. It is not clear at this time how serious the injury is.
Bagley’s injury creates opportunity for Duren
On Tuesday, the Pistons were already short on cash. Hamidou Diallo (quad), Nerlens Noel (plantar fasciitis) and Kevin Knox (right gastroc strain) are all yet to make their season debuts, and Isaiah Livers, who played in the first two exhibitions, missed the game with a hip injury.
Less than a minute into the game, Bagley slipped on Thunder striker Jalen Williams’ foot and bent his right knee at an awkward angle. He couldn’t put pressure on his right leg and needed help from his teammates to walk to the tunnel.
It is not yet known how much time Bagley will miss, but his injury means Duren can get more playing time. The rookie played seven minutes into the first quarter before committing his third foul, which resulted in him missing the remainder of the opening quarter and the entire second quarter before starting the third.
Despite the error attempt, Duren was productive. Seven of his 10 rebounds were offensive. Both of his field goals were dunks – a wide open from a high-low pass from Isaiah Stewart, and a putback dunk from a missed layup from Ivey.
Hayes finds rhythm of 3
One of Hayes’ biggest priorities this offseason has been adjusting his 3-point shot. His mechanics are cleaner and his shot has more arc. During the first two games of the preseason in Detroit, he went only 1-for-9 of 3. His off-season work finally started to show on Tuesday.
Hayes was one of the few players on the roster to consistently find the bottom of the net. He was Detroit’s best offensive player overall. He has played with more aggression and made a point to get into the paint. He shot 4-for-7 inside the arc. Most of his errors were on the line, as he unusually missed all three free throw attempts.
The Pistons need Hayes, a 26.8% career outside of the shooter, to consistently divide the floor. Tuesday showed that he may be able to turn the corner in his third season.
Turnover hurts Pistons again
Taking care of the ball was one of Detroit’s biggest preseason weaknesses. They made 21 turnovers last Tuesday against the New York Knicks and another 21 against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. After practice on Sunday, Dwane Casey said he wanted the Pistons to keep their turnover below 14.
Sales were still an issue against the Thunder. Detroit had only five turnovers in the first half, but had five in the first three minutes of the third quarter. It helped the Thunder find a rhythm and the Pistons went into the fourth quarter eight points behind, despite leading three at half time.
Cunningham (four turnovers) and Ivey (three turnovers) were responsible for most of them. As a team, the Pistons had a total of 15 turnovers, but the loss showed how quickly things can escalate when they cough up multiple possessions in a row.
Please contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@omarisankofa.