ORLANDO, Fla. — Saddiq Bey went off for a career-high 51 points in the Detroit Pistons‘ 134-120 win over the Magic on Thursday night, continuing what has already been a torrid month of individual scoring in the NBA.
Bey’s performance marked the league’s eighth 50-point game in March, the most in one calendar month over the past 50 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The last month with more was December 1962, when there were nine 50-point games.
Overall, there have been 17 50-point games this season, and Bey is the 13th player to pull off the feat, matching the most in a season in NBA history. At 22, he is the youngest player with a 50-point game in Pistons history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Two nights after being torched for 16 points in the first quarter by Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving on his way to a 60-point game, the Magic gave up 21 points in the first quarter to Bey.
“I saw those highlights and it was just very efficient. It was within the flow of the game,” Bey said of Irving. “That was a great performance to watch, and I think just throughout the NBA there’s been a lot of great performances in the past two weeks. I’m just grateful to be in this league to have the opportunity.”
“Rebuilding is always ugly,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said, “but there’s a lot of beautiful moments like tonight.”
Bey, whose previous career-high was 34, finished the first half in spectacular fashion, scoring five points in less than five seconds. He hit a 20-footer while falling out of bounds with 8.8 seconds left, came up with a backcourt steal and made a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left, giving the Pistons a 73-62 lead.
“He had 30 points at half so we were definitely expecting 50,” said Pistons center Isaiah Stewart, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Magic scored the first nine points of the game, but that lead was quickly erased by Bey. The Pistons moved ahead for keeps on a dunk by Stewart that broke a 50-50 tie midway through the second quarter.
“I think it was just the flow of the game,” Bey said. “I didn’t come into the game saying this is what I’m going to do, but you catch a rhythm and you get in a zone. My teammates did a great job of finding me and just encouraging me to stay aggressive.”
The Pistons shot 50% and their 134 points was also a season high.
“[Bey] got going early and he hit some really tough shots, but we’ve got to do a better job — I’ve got to do a better job — of not letting him do what he wants to do,” Wagner said. “He shot 14 3s, and we knew before the game we didn’t want him shooting 3s.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.