The Detroit Pistons can officially breathe a sigh of relief. After losing 28 consecutive games—the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history and tied for the longest overall losing streak the league had ever seen—the Pistons have won their third game of the season. On Saturday, Detroit bested the Toronto Raptors, 129-127, to officially snap the historic streak and get back in the win column.
Behind Cade Cunningham’s 30 points and 12 assists and some clutch shooting from Kevin Knox, Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic the Pistons were able to finally put an end to this ignominious streak. In the process, Cunningham became the first Piston since Chauncey Billups to post a 30-point, 10-assist, zero-turnover game. With that, the Pistons will end 2023 with a record of 3-29, and while Detroit would have liked to see more wins in the win-loss column, it can help but be happy that 2024 will begin with a clean slate, and the team certainly feels it
“I’ve been in a ton of locker rooms my whole life, and that was a first to me,” head coach Monty Williams told reporters after the win. “It wasn’t relief. It was more like, ‘Thank God! Finally.'”
Believe it or not, the season actually began with a shred of promise for Detroit. The Pistons won two of their first three games this season and very nearly won their opener, losing by one on the road to the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. Things immediately went down hill from there, though, as the Pistons lost game after game after game. They made it through the entire month of November without notching a victory. Some of those losses, like a 19-point home defeat at the hands of the Washington Wizards and an eight-point home disappointment against the severely undermanned Utah Jazz, were among the most embarrassing any team will endure all season.
But the Pistons caught a bit of a break from a scheduling perspective on Saturday. While they had Friday night off, the Raptors played an incredibly competitive game on the road against the shorthanded Celtics. Boston ultimately won that one 120-118, and Toronto’s core of Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes all played at least 37 minutes in that loss. To make matters even more difficult for Toronto, the Raptors were shorthanded thanks to a blockbuster trade. Mere hours before tipoff, Toronto dealt OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks. That left the Raptors sorely shorthanded. Detroit took advantage in the victory.
Detroit desperately needed this game if they were going to have any hope of breaking the streak before it approached the league’s longest streak of any kind—the 33-game winning streak built by the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. Detroit will begin a four-game Western Conference road trip on Monday, and three of their opponents in that window, the Rockets, Warriors and Nuggets, figure to be difficult opponents. The fourth, the Jazz, are less imposing, but they are 6-4 in their last 10 and have a strong home-court advantage due to the altitude in Utah. Detroit’s best chance at a win after this game would have come in a Jan. 10 showdown with the 5-26 San Antonio Spurs.
Now, when that game arrives, the Pistons won’t have to worry about their historic losing streak. They may be trying to avoid some other dubious markers, and they’re still seven wins away from ensuring they don’t post the worst record in an 82-game season in NBA history, but for now at least, the Pistons can hold their heads high. They have officially begun a one-game winning streak, and if they’ve learned anything over the past two months, it’s that streaks can last a whole lot longer than anyone expected.