The Pistons and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Cade Cunningham have hit their stride after winning six of their last eight games, going on their first three-game win streak after beating the Hawks in overtime, 113-110, on Monday.
Led by Cunningham (28 points, six rebounds, and 10 assists) and Jerami Grant (23 points and four rebounds), the Pistons made a comeback late in regulation after a back-and-forth fourth quarter that saw the Hawks and Pistons exchange leads.
“He’s rookie of the year. It’s not even close as far as talent evaluation. I’ve been in it a long time and seen (a lot of) players,” coach Dwane Casey said of Cunningham per Rod Beard of Detroit News.
“The only thing that (voters) can hold against us is we are a young team rebuilding, but talent-wise, he’s the guy that can finish games for you, and that’s what you need in those situations. He’s playing like a 10-year vet, so to get 10 assists and 28 points is big time.”
Cunningham nearly put the game away with 1.6 seconds left after sinking a pair of free throws, but John Collins was fouled on the subsequent inbounds play, but he split the ensuing free throws.
Cunningham took over in the extra period, scoring seven points, including a huge three-pointer to give the Pistons a 107-102 lead. After the Hawks responded with an alley-oop slam from Clint Capela, Cunningham came back with two straight buckets of his own to extend their back to five with just over two minutes to go. Grant then sank his tough fadeaway jumper to extend the lead to 113-107.
“I really like how the Pistons are playing right now. We’re playing really hard and playing for each other, and that’s what’s letting us win some games,” Cunningham said. “I really appreciate my team and my teammates trusting me with the ball, allowing me to get things going.”
The Pistons will look to extend their win streak to four when they host the Bulls on Wednesday.