It’s not how they started, but how they finished.
The Pistons lost their first two games in Summer League, but they followed with three straight wins to finish out with a winning record.
Saben Lee and Luka Garza led the way and the Pistons took a 79-78 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday night at Thomas & Mack Center. The Pistons leave Las Vegas with some good performances from their young core and some questions answered about how the roster will shake out ahead of the opening of training camp next month.
Garza finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, Lee added 19 points and eight rebounds and Jamorko Pickett 14 points and six rebounds.
Lee hit an off-balance jumper with 38 seconds left to put the Pistons ahead, 78-73, but Michigan’s Iggy Brazdeikis hit a 3-pointer to bring the Magic (2-3) within two. Lee was fouled and split the pair of free throws, for a three-point margin.
The Magic had an opportunity to tie it, but Brazdeikis (13 points) missed a 3-point attempt and a last-second putback by Yante Maten (Pontiac) at the buzzer wasn’t enough for the Magic.
Here are some observations from the Pistons’ Summer League finale:
►On the day that Garza agreed to a two-way contract with the Pistons, he showed more of the potential that he has to become a high-level NBA player. Throughout the five Summer League games, Garza has looked more comfortable in the paint and has shown his full skill set. He’s not the highest jumper or the fastest runner, but he hustles on every play and goes after every rebound. That’s going to endear him to Pistons fans, who can compare him to Bill Laimbeer from the Bad Boys days. Garza had a double-double in the first half.
►Lee again showed that he has some big-play ability and can handle running the offense. He got the Pistons off to a nice start in the first half and in the second game without Hayes and Cunningham, he looked very much like a starting point guard. The 3-point shot looked much better and he’s stepping into it with more confidence, hitting a couple of 3-pointers in the first half. With the logjam the Pistons have in the backcourt, Lee could have to scrap for playing time, but he’s shown he can be productive with the opportunity.
►Jamorko Pickett had another good game, after making his mark with the 18 points against the Knicks. He followed with two more good performances and he hit a couple of 3-pointers against the Magic. According to ESPN’s Mark Jones, Pickett is on an Exhibit 10 contract, which would put him in position to play on the Motor City Cruise in the G League, which would be a nice landing spot for him. The danger, though, is that another team could sign Pickett to a standard contract or a two-way deal, which would be more preferable than the Exhibit 10.
►Deividas Sirvydis had struggled for most of Summer League, trying to find his shooting stroke from the outside. He got into a good groove in the fourth quarter against the Magic, hitting three shots in a two-minute span. Sirvydis started Summer League going 0-of-11 from 3-point range, but once he got going, he got hot quickly, and ignited a 11-0 run for the Pistons. Sirvydis was waived this month, so his future is unclear, but he had a guaranteed contract that will pay him $1.5 million.