Jan 23, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) drives to the net against Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) in the third quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Cade Cunningham has been the saving grace of the Detroit Pistons. Despite his electric performances, the Pistons still find a way to lose and come short, Detroit did that again tonight, losing again to the Denver Nuggets 110-105. Cunningham finished with 34 points, 6-9 from three. He also was able to put up 8 boards and get 8 assists as well. In addition, Saddiq Bey added 21 points, and Diallo had 14 points himself. However, they came up short at the end due to a lack of help down the stretch. Cade continued to shine down the stretch, but did not get much assistance from his supporting cast.

Despite being a solid performer on the road of recent, Isaiah Stewart did not contribute for the Pistons down the stretch. He finished the game scoring 0 points on 3 attempts, and finished with 4 rebounds. He was not a presence on the post that the Nuggets were threatened by, and he followed what was perhaps his best performance this season, with his worst. In addition, Josh Jackson finished his night early. He received his second technical foul on the bench half way through the second quarter. Therefore, he was ejected from the game. His absence was felt, and other players on the bench for Detroit felt absent as well. It was a rough night offensively for every Piston not named Cade Cunningham

Cade Cunningham is the best rookie in the league. No debate.

Evan Mobley might be leading the rookie of the year race, but Cade Cunningham is doing everything he can to open the conversation. He exploded for 34 points (with zero points from the free throw line!!). He was making plays on both ends, getting key steals and blocks down the stretch. In addition, he got 8 assists and 8 rebounds as well. Cade is playing like the star that he was billed to be. On a night like this, it’s hard to envision future all star games without him. He is finally piecing his game together and elevating his team around him. The way that his supporting cast played, there was no reason for the Pistons to contend in this game. They only did so because of Cade Cunningham.

Cade Cunningham also lead the charge for Detroit on the defensive end as well. For a shooting guard to finish with 4 blocks and 2 steals is a sign of a special player on both sides of the court. Killian Hayes was also to contribute 2 steals on the defensive end, and has been improving in his bench role. Hayes even finished with 8 assists as well, as his passing was on full display. His bench role allows him to have the ball in his hands more often. Saddiq Bey has continued to be Cade’s sidekick, finishing with 21 points and 2 steals. He has been all around sensational for the Pistons, and is proving to be an essential part of Detroit’s future.

What is clear is that the Pistons are missing the pick and roll threat that can maximize Cade Cunningham’s game. Kelly Olynyk has been absent due to health and safety protocols, and Isaiah Stewart did nothing for Detroit offensively. And when Jerami Grant is still making his way back to the team, Cunningham looks alone on the court. Killian Hayes still is not a consistent offensive threat, and every other player on the Pistons was not good enough. This game would have been a blow out if it was not for the surge of Cade Cunningham.

Nikola Jokic takes advantage of the Pistons

What a shocker, the reigning MVP of the league put on two straight clinics against the small Detroit Pistons. Jokic finished with 28 points and 21 rebounds. His strength in the paint, on the perimeter, and his playmaking. He is the model of excellence in the NBA when it comes to the modern big. After Isaiah Stewart played well against him in their previous matchup, Nikola Jokic made him a non factor throughout the game. He rebounded as much as he pleased, not giving Detroit any real second chances offensively.

In addition to the offensive performance of Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets were also able to stay out of foul trouble. The Pistons only shot 14 free throws, and none of those were Cade Cunningham. Denver was able to shoot 31 shots from the line, taking advantage of a young Pistons roster who can commit a lot of fouls. The Nuggets also saw contributions from Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon, putting up 20 points and 16 points respectively.

The Denver Nuggets are an older, significantly better team than the Pistons, However, because of the play of Cade Cunningham, Denver was not able to get an easy win against Detroit in their season series. These teams played two physically tough games, where multiple technical fouls were passed out. Cunningham lead two fourth quarter runs that both nearly ended up being wins. Denver was able to use their veteran experience to get the job done in the end.

Pistons face top 5 rookies next two games

Over the course of this weekend, the Detroit Pistons will be facing Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic. In addition, they will play Evan Mobley and the Cavaliers on Sunday at home. With the attitude Cade Cunningham is playing with of late, it is fair to argue that this weekend could be a big momentum shifter for the rookie of the year conversation. Experts have declared this race is locked with Evan Mobley winning the award. Despite his play and the winning of the Cavaliers, Cade has looked to be the better rookie. His overall skillset is unmatched by other rookies. And he is looking ready to take his game to a different level.

Detroit will play one game in Orlando, but will be home for the next week, having a four game home stand. The Pistons will hope to defend their home court and bounce back from a 1-4 stretch. Cunningham is playing winning basketball, and once the rest of the team joins him, this team will be tough to beat. Detroit has their guy, folks. Enjoy nights like these. Because we haven’t had a guy like this since Grant Hill.

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  1. […] Cade leads rally, Pistons come short again […]

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