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Detroit Pistons end four-game skid, beat Nets in Brooklyn, 130-122

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Things appeared bleak for the Detroit Pistons entering Thursday. They had lost seven of their last eight games, including consecutive blowouts to the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.

On Thursday, they were able to get the best of the road-weary Brooklyn Nets on the second night of a back-to-back. Thanks to strong play from a new starting five and a respectable bench showing, the Pistons survived a big night from Kyrie Irving and defeated the Nets in their own arena, 130-122.

Saddiq Bey led Detroit with 25 points, hit nine of his first 13 shots and also supplied nine rebounds. Alec Burks, in his first start of the season, scored 20 points on just nine shots with five rebounds and four assists. Jaden Ivey finished with 16 points and seven assists, Killian Hayes tallied 16 points, and Jalen Duren (17 points, seven rebounds), Hamidou Diallo (12 points, five rebounds, five assists) and Isaiah Stewart (11 points, five rebounds) all reached double figures as well.

Irving finished with 40 points, attempting to carry the Nets who were without Kevin Durant (MCL sprain) and lost Ben Simmons in the third period with left knee soreness. Nic Claxton added a double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds.

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The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Detroit, who allowed Brooklyn to get within five points, 125-120, with 1:01 to play following a goaltending violation from Duren. But the rookie center made up for it on the other end, receiving a ridiculous bounce pass from Hayes for a dunk to give Detroit more breathing room the following possession. The Pistons led by 14 points with 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey (41) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) and forward Royce O'Neale (00) during the first quarter at Barclays Center in New York on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023.
Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey (41) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) and forward Royce O'Neale (00) during the first quarter at Barclays Center in New York on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023.

It was a good offensive night for the Pistons, who shot 50.5% overall and 40.7% from 3. After committing eight turnovers in the first half, they turned the ball over just three times in the second half and played disciplined basketball against a sloppy Nets team that completed a five-game road trip the previous night.

Hayes, Stewart come off bench

Stewart returned to the Pistons’ rotation after missing four of their last six games with left shoulder soreness. Hayes also returned after sitting out of Monday’s loss to the Bucks with a left shoulder contusion. But in a surprise, both players came off of the bench on Thursday.

It was Stewart’s first time as a reserve this season, though he was late to Detroit’s bench and had his shoulder wrapped before entering into the game with 3:24 to play in the first quarter. Hayes checked in shortly after, and it was his first time not starting since Nov. 11.

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It’s not clear why Dwane Casey brought the third-year players off of the bench. It’s possible that the coaching staff simply wanted to ease in Stewart, who has been dealing with an ailing shoulder. Hayes’ role shift is tougher to explain, but it could be a vote of confidence for Ivey’s improved playmaking and an acknowledgement that the starting five needs more shooting.

Regardless of the rationale, all parties appeared to benefit from it. Hayes looked comfortable in his new (old) role, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and running floaters each to supply 10 points in 24 minutes. Stewart also looked comfortable, tallying nine points and five rebounds while going 5-for-5 at the free-throw line in 20 minutes.

Nets guard Edmond Sumner drives to the basket against Pistons forward Isaiah Livers during the second quarter on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in New York.
Nets guard Edmond Sumner drives to the basket against Pistons forward Isaiah Livers during the second quarter on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in New York.

And unlike Wednesday’s debacle at home against the Burks, Detroit got off to a strong start against the Nets. Ivey scored the Pistons’ first 12 points, including a pair of free throws after Royce O’Neale fouled him on a deep heave as the clock expired. Detroit led Brooklyn 30-27 after the opening period while shooting 11-21 overall, and then surged in the second half thanks to strong play from Bey. Burks, who has been Detroit's most consistent scorer all season after Bojan Bogdanovic, aced his first test as a starter.

Bey leads third-quarter surge

It’s been an up-and-down season for Bey, who has seen his outside shooting slump and his place in the rotation shift back-and-forth from the starting unit and bench. Thursday was a reminder that the third-year forward is one of the best pure scorers on the roster — when he’s feeling it.

He certainly felt “it” in the third period, scoring 15 of his 25 points on 6-for-7 overall shooting. The Nets called a timeout 44 seconds into the quarter after Bey hit his third 3-pointer to extend an early 6-0 Pistons run that gave them the lead for good. Then midway through the period, he finished a layup, an uncharacteristic putback dunk and 3 to give the Pistons an 11-point lead.

Bey’s next bucket didn’t come until the five-minute mark of the fourth, when he hit a turnaround midrange jumper to push Detroit’s lead back to 10 and starve off a potential Brooklyn run. His big night helped the Pistons survive a rare off night from Bojan Bogdanovic, who finished with just 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Detroit won the third period by a 43-31 margin and shot 17-for-26 overall.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

Check out the latest episode of "The Pistons Pulse" podcast, embedded higher up in the story, with Free Press beat writer Omari Sankofa II and former Division I player and current analyst Bryce Simon. Listen on AppleSpotify or wherever you load up podcasts.

Next up: Rockets

Matchup: Pistons (13-37) vs. Houston (11-38).

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Saturday; Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.

TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit; WXYT-FM (97.1).

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons end four-game skid, beat Nets in Brooklyn, 130-122