A back-and-forth game nearly ended in disaster for the Detroit Pistons. With the score tied at 116 with 4.1 seconds left, Jerami Grant’s inbounds pass was picked off by Lamelo Ball. The Charlotte Hornets star immediately launched a long two-pointer that missed the mark, allowing the game to go into overtime.
Instead of disaster, the game ended in triumph for the Pistons. Kelly Olynyk knocked down a midrange shot at the overtime buzzer to give the Pistons (15-46) a thrilling 127-126 victory over the Hornets, snapping a 15-game losing streak against the Eastern Conference foe.
Saddiq Bey (28 points, eight rebounds), Jerami Grant (26 points), Olynyk (20 points, eight rebounds) and Cade Cunningham (19 points, six assists) all had clutch moments for the Pistons down the stretch. Isaiah Stewart (seven points, 11 rebounds, two blocks), Hamidou Diallo (13 points) and Killian Hayes (six points, seven assists) also gave Detroit a lift.
Terry Rozier (33 points) and Michigan State alumnus Miles Bridges (29 points, 10 rebounds) led the Hornets.
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Grant takes over in overtime
Grant’s turnover at the end of the fourth prevented the Pistons from taking the final shot, but he did his part to make up for it in overtime. He scored seven of Detroit’s 11 points in the final period and assisted a long 2-pointer by Bey. Other than a turnover while trying to kick out a Bey with 45 seconds remaining, Grant was the primary reason why Detroit was able to keep pace with Charlotte.
Stewart was also clutch for the Pistons, forcing PJ Washington to miss at the rim with 24 seconds left, and then forcing a jump ball with Washington on the other end that the Pistons ended up recovering to set up Olynyk’s winner.
Livers scores first NBA points
It has been more than two months since Livers made his NBA debut against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 16. That day, he played only four minutes and 41 seconds, subbing in at the start of the second quarter. It was his first meaningful basketball from him since he suffered a stress fracture in his right foot during the Big Ten tournament on March 12.
Soreness in that same foot forced Livers to miss more time following his debut, but he had been practicing with the Pistons and the Motor City Cruise of the G League while awaiting his next opportunity. That came on Sunday, when he checked in at the start of the second quarter.
Livers’ performance was a reminder of why the Pistons drafted him 42nd overall in 2021. The Michigan alumnus knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to finish with six points. Livers made 41.2% of his 3-point attempts during his college career, and 43.1% as a senior. We’ll likely see more of Livers during the Pistons’ final 22 games, as coach Dwane Casey recently revealed the team wants to get a good look at him as the season winds down.
Cunningham battles foul trouble (again)
Cunningham picked up his second foul with 6:09 to play in the first quarter, marking the fifth time in his past seven games he has picked up two fouls in the opening period. Casey subbed Cunningham out after his second foul, but allowed him to continue playing following his third foul with 3:45 before halftime.
Cunningham’s foul trouble was costly Saturday during a close loss to the Boston Celtics, but he did a better job of limiting his fouls down the stretch Sunday. He picked up his fourth foul just over a minute into the fourth quarter, but didn’t pick up another one.
It allowed him to play most of the fourth quarter. Cunningham missed his first four shots of the night but finished strong, scoring 12 points in the fourth and forcing a travel on Ball with 59 seconds remaining in regulation by playing stout defense.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism