LAS VEGAS — Hours before the game began, Luka Garza inked a two-way contract with the Detroit Pistons to secure his role as a rookie next season. He followed that with his best performance of the Summer League.
Garza had his third-straight double-double with 21points and 15 rebounds to lead the Pistons to their third straight win, a 79-78 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday. After losing their first two games in Vegas, the Pistons rallied to finish the summer slate with a winning record, with the last two victories coming without Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes.
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Saben Lee added 19 points and eight assists, and Jamorko Pickett — a nice surprise for Detroit after a four-year career at Georgetown — had 14 points and six rebounds.
The Pistons led by as many as many as 13, but a late layup by Pontiac native Yante Maten cut the deficit to one, 79-78, at the buzzer.
Luka Garza showcases his potential
There aren’t too many bigs in the NBA who can hit 3-pointers both off the dribble and off the catch, post-up and rebound effectively. But Garza, who was a four-year standout at Iowa, did all of that and more in Vegas.
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He’s every bit as good on offense as he was advertised, and got progressively better as the week went on. The Pistons started him on Friday as one of two replacements for Tyler Cook and Sekou Doumbouya, who went home early to attend to a family matter.
Garza, who showed flashes of what he could do through the first two games, immediately became an offensive spark plug for the Pistons. He makes life easier for everyone on offense, given that there’s little he struggles to do on that end of the floor.
While his defense is still a question mark, it’s tough to not see him getting NBA minutes next season if his Summer League performance translates to the regular season.
Jamorko Pickett closes summer with another good game
Like Garza, it took a few games for Pickett to really show what he can do. The 6-foot-9 Georgetown alumnus received his first start on Friday and immediately looked like one of Detroit’s best players, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the first quarter while going 3-for-3 from the 3-point line.
Pickett shot 36.5% from 3 in college, and he isn’t just a catch-and-shoot player. He can also put the ball on the floor a little and create his own offense. He’s a versatile offensive weapon and a strong candidate to play for the Motor City Cruise in the G League next season.
Saben Lee thrives with the ball, again
With Cunningham and Hayes out on Saturday due to injury, the Pistons needed Lee, who had an up-and-down week up to that point, to step up. He did that and then some, leading the Pistons with 22 points while adding five assists.
He followed that on Monday by appearing unburdened without having to share ball-handling responsibilities, and had his best performance as a playmaker. He added two more 3-pointers, and his outside shot was a consistent weapon for him in Vegas after not taking many of them during his rookie season.
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