Well, rookie Saddiq Bey certainly showed the Boston Celtics what they missed out on by not drafting him when he was available in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft.
The Detroit Pistons’ 19th overall pick went off Friday night to the tune of 30 points and 12 rebounds, leading his team to a 108-102 victory going 7-for-7 from deep.
Contributing to a balanced offense to help them improve to 7-19 were Deion Wright (22 points, seven assists, six rebounds), Jerami Grant (15 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks) and Blake Griffin (12 points, six assists, four rebounds).
The Celtics rallied to chip away at the lead late and make it a one-possession game down the stretch, but poor shooting performances from deep and at the line prevented them from earning a second straight victory. They shot just 29.6% from 3-point range.
Jayson Tatum’s second-half spark saw him eventually lead Boston with a 33-point, 11-rebound double-double (with seven assists). Jaylen Brown had 27 points, six rebounds and two steals as the Celtics fell to 13-12.
Here’s how it all went down:
With Kemba Walker out of the lineup and Marcus Smart still rehabbing from his calf injury, Semi Ojeleye joined the first rotation for the second straight game, and Payton Pritchard earned his first career start.
Well, the ball movement certainly wasn’t what it was Thursday night, as the Celtics recorded just two assists in the first quarter.
But Brown resumed his scoring, leading Boston with nine points, three rebounds and a steal.
The Celtics jumped out to a 14-4 lead through the first four minutes of the game, but by the final two minutes the Pistons had chipped away and taken a small advantage.
By the end of the quarter, Detroit led 27-23 behind Griffin, Grant and Bey’s five points apiece.
The Celtics couldn’t create separation coming out in the second quarter, as Bey started going off and lifted Detroit to a lead of as many as 10 with his 19 points in the first half.
Off the bench, Javonte Green had seven points and five rebounds before the break giving the Celtics some energy.
Tatum had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists after the first two quarters, Ojeleye scored nine points with three assists, three rebounds and two steals and Brown led Boston with 15 points and four rebounds.
He helped them close the gap getting aggressive at the end of the second.
The highlight of the second quarter certainly was Marcus Smart joining NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine on the broadcast.
The Celtics shot just 26.7% from 3-point range in the first two frames, going 4-for-15 from deep, though they outscored the Pistons in total field goals made.
Boston trailed Detroit 54-52 entering halftime.
ROOKIE RACKING UP THE POINTS
The Celtics had good energy coming out of the gate. Even on defense, which has been a point of concern for the team.
But with Bey being 6-for-6 from deep with a game-high 27 points by the end of the third, there was not much the Celtics could do about the Pistons managing to create more separation.
Meanwhile, no Celtic had reached the 20-point threshold by the end of the stanza, though Brown and Tatum were close with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
Detroit closed the quarter out up 82-72.
ONE LAST CHANCE
The Celtics chipped away at their deficit throughout the final quarter, but never truly overcame it.
Especially with Deion Wright and Griffin keeping the Pistons offense balanced.
The Celtics did cut the deficit to just four points just outside of three minutes with a big spark from Tatum, though.
The Celtics outscored the Pistons in the final quarter, but it was too little too late.
On the road again…
It’s just a quick trip this time, but the Celtics head down to Washington D.C. to face the Wizards for a 1 p.m. ET Valentine’s Day matinee on Sunday.
Then it’s back to Boston to host the Denver Nuggets before a two-game series against the Atlanta Hawks.