DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets played one of the more entertaining games in a while from Detroit’s perspective. But it still ended in a 107-103 loss which won’t leave the Pistons feeling any better after having the game in control down the stretch until the very end.
It was a game they felt they should’ve won, but costly turnovers and inability to control defensive rebounds hurt their chances greatly.
”Too many turnovers and fouls down the stretch,” Monty Williams said. “This one sticks with you because you had a strong chance to close one out at home.”
The Pistons finished with eighteen total turnovers, five from Cunningham and four from Ivey, which was a big factor in the game.
It seemed like the Pistons were going to pull out the win after both the Nuggets coach Mike Malone, and Nikola Jokic were sent to the showers early after arguing the way calls were going.
The Pistons started the game with a different hustle in their step a day after Cade Cunningham challenged the team for a lopsided loss to the Toronto Raptors. The improved level of play saw them hanging tough with the Nuggets even before the ejections, but a series of mistakes down the stretch cost them.
The Cade and Jaden Connection
One of the keys to the renewed energy was the play of Jaden Ivey. He routinely found space to attack the paint and get to the basket. Ivey started the game with a tough floater in the lane with contact which would be a constant refrain for him. But the real improvement was his composure in the backcourt with Cunningham, some times as the main ball handler and other times as the off guard.
Jaden Ivey finished the game with seventeen points, three assists and three rebounds on 7-9 shooting from the field. “We needed energy and down hill play,” coach Williams said of Ivey. “He gives us that.”
Despite the good start from Ivey, he was concerned more with the fact that they lost a game they shouldn’t have. And he was bothered by the thought of letting down the organization and fans with the mounting losses.
”We all want to win for each other, the organization and the fans,” Ivey said. “We made some mistakes against a championship team and it’s tough, we have to be solid in those big moments.”
Cade Cunningham led the team with twenty-seven points, nine assists and two rebounds. But one thing that was different than the norm was Cunningham receiving eleven free throw attempts in which he made them all.
A big presence that’s still hurting the Pistons is the loss of center Jalen Duren who could return soon. Coach Williams mentioned the Pistons inability to finish plays on the defense.
“We forced a number of misses and couldn’t come away with the defensive rebound.”
Cade Cunningham Addresses the Losing
The 2023-24 season hasn’t gone according to plan for the Detroit Pistons, and that’s an understatement.
They’ve lost eleven games in a row after starting the year with hope and a 2-1 record. Since, things have been derailed by injuries, mistakes, and the expected ups and downs of a young team.
But what would be even more catastrophic is if the young core accepted the losing due to those reasons. Instead they are tired of losing, and are choosing to be real about just how bad things have gotten.
When I asked head coach Monty Williams about how to keep the team mentally engaged despite all the losses, he spoke to how the players haven’t given up. And specifically mentioned Cade Cunningham and Isaiah Stewart as vocal leaders saying what needs to be said.
They aren’t making excuses, but are challenging each other to be better. And like the leader many thought he’d be, Cunningham publicly challenged the young Pistons team to be better. To admit what they are, which he called bad, and to have the heart to be better. Not just talking about it, but walking the walk.
“We gotta be realistic after the situation. It’s hard to be like, ‘Oh we’re good, we’re good,’ because we’re bad,” Cade Cunningham said after the Pistons 11th loss in a row. We gotta address that. We gotta know what we’re not good at & address it not only with our words in the locker room, but on the court.”
This team has the makeup to better than the record and only all out effort and hustle will make up for the inexperience and injuries.
Now it’s time to see them put words to action, but it starts with personal accountability and leadership. Cade Cunningham is growing into that leader.
More Detroit Pistons Content
Tweet: @WoodwoodSports or comment on your favorite social media platform!
Want More Detroit Pistons?
Check out all of our Pistons coverage with Woodward Pistons via YouTube
Photo Credit: Brandon Dent – Woodward Sports Network