Pistons reserve Malachi Flynn loses 50 to Hawks

Malachi Flynn, the Detroit Pistons' backup point guard, had a rare 50-point performance in Wednesday night's 121-113 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

It was only the third game in which a player had 50 or more points off the bench since starters were first tracked in 1970-71. Jamal Crawford scored 51 points for the Phoenix Suns in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks in 2019, and Nick Anderson scored 50 points for the Orlando Magic in a win over the New Jersey Nets in 1993.

“It's tough right now, because at the end of the day, you want to win,” Flynn said. “But it's good to enjoy this moment. I'm sure that two days from now, it will be really good.”

The 50 points were a Pistons franchise record for a reserve as well as a career high for Flynn.

Flynn, whose previous career high was 27, was 18-for-25 from the floor and 9-for-12 at the line. He also had season-highs of 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals in 34 minutes.

Flynn's career average of 5.2 points entering Wednesday was the lowest career scoring average at the time of a 50-point game in NBA history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He became the first player to have 50 points and 70% shooting in a game off the bench since starters and reserves began tracking.

The Hawks held a 59-50 halftime lead, but every time they started to pull away, Flynn helped the Pistons respond with buckets from all over the floor.

“He was taking contested shots and got to the foul line, which kind of got him going,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “We tried to be more aggressive with him and influence him, and he kept playing. He played great.”

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The Pistons pulled to within five late in the fourth quarter but couldn't get any closer as Atlanta clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Pistons have lost 10 of their last 11 games.

Starting point guard Cade Cunningham was a late scratch with a left knee injury after initially being inserted into the lineup. Jaden Ivey took his place among the starters.

ESPN Statistics & Information and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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