Pistons Lose OT Crusher
Johnsonâ€™s tying triple forces OT in one Pistons let get away
When the Pistons beat Portland at The Palace last week, Lawrence Frank ordered Brandon Knight to foul with the Pistons ahead by three points. It's a philosophy he's held since Chauncey Billups threw in a half-court bomb to force what became a three-overtime playoff game en route to the Pistons' 2004 NBA title, one of the epic games in Palace history.
Up three on a final possession Friday night, the Pistons failed to foul Joe Johnson. His triple over Rodney Stuckey forced overtime of a game the Pistons hadn't trailed since Knight's triple tied it at seven in the first quarter. When Zaza Pachulia scored on a put-back to start overtime, the Hawks would never trail, winning 107-101, about the worst way you could script the start of a stretch that sees the Pistons play five games in six nights, all in different cities.
"It's frustrating, but we've got a game tomorrow," Knight said. "That's the biggest thing in this league. You might be frustrated with one game, but there's nothing we can do to change that. We learn from it. We can see we're getting better as a team. As a unit, we're competing. We use what we learn in today's game and put it to use in tomorrow's game."
The Pistons controlled the game most of the night, leading by 11 at halftime, but the Hawks rallied to tie at 70 with nine minutes to play. One possession later, Jason Maxiell ripped down an offensive rebound, converted and added a foul shot to spark an 8-0 run. It looked like the Pistons were out of the woods when they still clung to a six-point lead with 40 seconds left. But a Marvin Williams triple cut it to three, then a Pistons turnover opened the door for Johnson's dagger that forced overtime.
It was the Williams triple that will haunt Frank's dreams.
"It goes back to this," he said. "We hit the bucket with 39 seconds to go, they're walking the ball up the court and we don't get matched up and we give Marvin Williams the three. So six becomes three. We had a foul to give; obviously, we wanted to foul; we didn't foul. We kicked the game. There's no doubt about it. It's a game we should have won; we didn't. It's very, very disappointing. It's yet another good performance that gets wasted, not in the win column."
The Pistons were staggered by Atlanta's comeback and really out of it almost before overtime started.
"I've been part of games where you have the game won, a team makes great shots and you've got to move on to the next thing,"