It goes without saying, but it’s hard to win basketball games when you give your opponent 34 easy points.
That’s what happened on Tuesday, when the Detroit Pistons (20-50 overall) made 28 season-high turnovers – which were converted to 34 points – en route to a 119-100 loss. against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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For those looking at the standings, the loss further strengthened Detroit’s grip on the second-worst NBA record and, he said, the second-best odds in the draft lottery next month. The Timberwolves improved to 22-47 and have won six of their last 10.
It was a good night for many of Detroit’s young players – especially Saben Lee, who scored a career-high 22 points off the bench. Lee also distributed five assists. Saddiq Bey added 21 points and had five of his eight 3-point attempts, and Killian Hayes finished with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Saben Lee’s Great Game
Lee has been a pleasant surprise for the Pistons this season. The 37th overall pick in 2020 wasn’t on many draft tables, but he was in Detroit’s top 10. And he entered the rotation earlier than expected, stepping up in late February with Delon Wright injured and Derrick Rose shipped to New York.
Lee has had a rookie season of ups and downs, but two of his best games came last week, with 13 points and seven assists on Sunday, followed by production on Tuesday.
Lee’s game is a fun contrast to his fellow rookie point guard, Hayes. Lee is the top athlete and much more of a north-south scorer, getting most of his points on the edge and the free throw line. He made his eight attempts on the line against Minnesota, two short of his top.
Killian Hayes continues to settle down
Hayes’ game on Sunday (21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) was a decisive performance, as his mindset was clearly different. He kissed the mark in the fourth quarter, totaling 12 points on a 5 for 7 shot in the final period.
After that game, Hayes said he played with a clearer mind than earlier in the season. This was postponed until Tuesday. He didn’t score as many points, but he made a concerted effort to reach the rim during practice; he was not satisfied with so many floats and 3 points of retreat. Compared to January, it plays with more gust.
Tuesday also marked Hayes’ 13th straight game with at least five assists, the longest streak for a Pistons rookie since Isiah Thomas had 17 in a row in the 1981-82 season.