Cade Cunningham has career night, but Detroit Pistons collapse vs. Thunder, 114-103

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Cade Cunningham had a career night, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Detroit Pistons from enduring one of their worst losses of the season.

The Pistons led by 18 points in the first half, but fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder at home, 114-103, following a massive fourth-quarter effort by OKC. Cunningham scored a career-high 28 points while collecting his third double-double of the season with 11 rebounds and five assists.

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There weren't many more positives for Detroit.

The Thunder, coming off of a historic 73-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last Thursday, saw their two best players return against the Pistons in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie Josh Giddey. Gilgeous-Alexander led all players with 30 points and 13 assists, and Lu Dort added 28 points.

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham drives up court during the first half on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.
Pistons guard Cade Cunningham drives up court during the first half on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.

Detroit gave up a season-high 42 points in the fourth quarter, shooting just 34% in the second half after knocking down 49% of their shots in the first half.

There was a massive free throw disparity between the two teams. Oklahoma City shot 23-for-30 at the line. The Pistons were 5-for-6, and had zero attempts in the second half.

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Cade Cunningham has career night, continues hot streak

Entering Monday, no Piston had been hotter offensively than Cunningham. In his last two games, he scored a total of 45 points on 18-for-28 overall shooting (64.2%) and 8-for-12 shooting from behind-the-arc (66.7%). He kept that streak going against the Thunder.

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham drives against Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the second period of the Pistons' 114-103 loss on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.
Pistons guard Cade Cunningham drives against Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the second period of the Pistons' 114-103 loss on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.

Cunningham made six of his first nine shots and three of his first four 3-pointers, including one with 3:28 to play in the second quarter, to help the Pistons build a 15-point lead. He made a pair of 3-pointers early in the third quarter to help Detroit maintain a double-digit lead, 73-57.

He went slightly cold in the second half, but knocked down a sixth 3-pointer with 5:18 to play in the fourth to extend Detroit's lead to six. A lead the Pistons were unable to hold.

Pistons start strong, but stumble to finish

It was a tale of two halves for the Pistons. They had one of their best offensive performances of the season during the first half and carried a 63-50 advantage into halftime. It was the fourth time this season the Pistons cracked the 60-point threshold during the first two quarters, and did it on 49% overall shooting and a season-high 52.6% (10-for-19) clip from behind-the-arc. They led by as many as 18 points.

Pistons center Luka Garza rebounds against Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the second period of the Pistons' 114-103 loss on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.
Pistons center Luka Garza rebounds against Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the second period of the Pistons' 114-103 loss on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.

In the second half, the Pistons shot just 7-for-26 (26.9%) in the third quarter and committed as many turnovers (six) as assists (six) in the period. It didn't get better in the second half. The Thunder outscored the Pistons, 42-22, in the final period hitting 17 of their 19 shot attempts (89.5%).

Detroit led by six, 97-91, with 4:58 to play after Cunningham made a layup. Oklahoma City then closed with a dominant 23-6 run in the final five minutes of the game. Gilgeous-Alexander made a layup with 3:46 remaining to give the Thunder their first lead of the night, 98-97. A 3-point play by Dort capped a 13-0 Thunder run and pushed their lead to seven, 104-97, with 2:43 remaining. They didn't look back.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Career night for Cade Cunningham, but Detroit Pistons lose, 114-103