Detroit Pistons

Pistons Cade Cunningham wins first match-up against Rockets Jalen Green in battle of top picks

Jalen Green and Cade Cunningham will be inextricably linked for the entirety of their NBA careers.

NBA League Pass: Sign up to unlock live out-of-market games (7-day free trial)​

The number one and two picks in the 2021 NBA Draft faced off against each other for the first time on Wednesday in what was the first national tv game for both, and the match-up did not disappoint.

Green won the individual stat battle, finishing with 23-points, five rebounds and two assists, but it was Cade Cunnigham who got the last laugh as the Pistons won 112-104 in Houston. Cunningham finished with 20 points, four rebounds and two assists.

The matchup everyone was looking forward to almost fizzled early when Cunningham went to the bench less than four minutes into the game with two fouls, limiting him to 13 first-half minutes, but it kicked off during the second half.

Green looked aggressive from the outset of the third, attacking Cunningham whenever the two were matched up. On one play, Green drove to the hoop past Cunningham to finish with a dunk and apparently had some words for his fellow rookie and was assigned a technical for taunting.

After the game, Cunningham wouldn't elaborate on what Green said to him.

The Pistons rookie, who missed the first four games of the season recovering from a sprained right ankle, has looked increasingly more mobile and comfortable with each game. Through his first four games, Cunningham was shooting just 23.2 percent of his field-goal attempts, but connected on 44.4 percent against the Rockets (8-of-18).

MORE: Cunningham vs Green - the next great rivalry

He hit two huge buckets down the stretch - a three to snap a late run from the Rockets, and an athletic layup with just under two minutes remaining in the fourth to give the Pistons a four-point lead.

"Each game, I'm feeling a little more pep in my step," Cunningham said post-game. "If I can stay like that and stay level-headed, the season will be fine."

Green and Cunningham are just 19 and 20 years old, so there will be plenty more nights where the league's next two rising stars can shine, but if Wednesday was just the appetiser, then fans will be clamouring for more.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

Ime Udoka, Dennis Schroder (Boston Celtics)
Udoka frustrated by Celtics turnovers
Nick Metallinos
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
Embiid's dominance turning 76ers season around
Yash Matange
Westbrook
All-time triple-double leaders: Jokic climbing list
Yash Matange
Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)
Rockets create history with win streak
Benyam Kidane
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Raptors comeback falls short against OKC
Benyam Kidane
James Harden (Brooklyn Nets)
Rockets honour Harden with tribute video
Benyam Kidane
More News