Crazy Comeback, Tough Loss

Pistons bench scores 85, wipes out 22-point deficit in 2 OT loss

TEAM COLORS

The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

White Hot – A crazy Pistons comeback wiped out Atlanta’s 22-point fourth-quarter lead and got them to overtime, where the gritty Pistons bench finally ran out of gas in the second OT, losing 126-119. Austin Daye’s 3-pointer with four seconds left in regulation gave the Pistons a 101-100 lead after they trailed by 22 early in the quarter and still by 18 with six minutes to play. The bench, led by Will Bynum’s 20 points in regulation, led the comeback as Lawrence Frank rewarded them not only for their fourth-quarter play but for cutting a 16-point first-half deficit to five by halftime. Bynum finished with 31, Rodney Stuckey and Andre Drummond with 16 apiece and Charlie Villanueva with 14 as the bench scored 85. The Pistons had a shot to win at the end of the first overtime when Bynum’s layup rimmed out. After Bynum gave the Pistons a 112-110 lead in the second overtime, Jeff Teague’s triple sparked a 7-0 Hawks run.

BLUE COLLAR – Tayshaun Prince suffered a sprained ankle in Saturday’s win at Washington and was a game-time decision. He made the start, grabbed the game’s first two rebounds and scored the first basket, then had to leave midway through the first quarter when he took a Josh Smith elbow to the face. Prince was the only Pistons starter to play in the fourth quarter or overtimes. He finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes. Rodney Stuckey bounced back from his own twisted ankle, crumpling on Al Horford’s drive to the basket in which he was fouled and hit the tying free throw with less than two seconds left in regulation. Stuckey needed to be carried to the bench, but he returned to the game midway through the first overtime.

RED FLAG – Pistons turnovers early allowed Atlanta to quickly take a double-digits lead. The Pistons coughed it up seven times in the first nine minutes while Josh Smith was doing his damage – scoring frequently in transition off of those turnovers – before rallying back once they stopped handing the ball to the Hawks. Brandon Knight had three of the seven turnovers, Greg Monroe and Kyle Singler two apiece.

Will Bynum, Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye have spent major chunks of the season on the outside of Lawrence Frank’s rotation looking in. On Wednesday night in Atlanta, Frank rode them through the fourth quarter and two overtimes as they wiped out a 22-point Pistons deficit.

On a night the Pistons started slow and finished strong, the game ultimately just went on too long. A bench unit that hung 85 points on the scoreboard ran out of gas in the second overtime, losing 126-119 to the Hawks.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” Bynum said after his 31-point night, 26 coming after the third quarter. “We knew if we could get stops, we were able to score in transition and pick and rolls. So we just kept trying to get back, piece by piece. We finally got there and had an opportunity to win. Missed a layup. Can’t believe it.”

The Pistons had gaping opportunities to win it in both regulation and overtime. After Daye’s triple put the Pistons ahead by a point with four seconds left in regulation, they had to foul Al Horford when he slipped away from Andre Drummond and forced overtime by splitting his free throws. Bynum missed a layup after blowing through the defense with three seconds left in the first overtime, delivering the game to a second overtime.

Bynum’s tough floater put the Pistons up by two in the second OT, but Jeff Teague answered with a triple to give Atlanta the lead and ignite a 7-0 Hawks run that put the game beyond Detroit’s reach.

“We just couldn’t finish it off, but that second unit showed great resolve,” Frank said. “Unfortunately, the first and third quarters we got outscored 59-30. I give a lot of credit to that second unit. We had opportunities to win that game, had some shots at the rim to try to win the game. Just didn’t fall for us.”

The Pistons fell behind by 22 early in the fourth quarter on DeShawn Stevenson’s 3-pointer, but then Bynum and Villanueva began raining triples as the Pistons scored 39 points in the quarter – all of them from the second unit of Bynum, Villanueva, Daye, Drummond and Rodney Stuckey.

In addition to Bynum’s 31, Stuckey – who suffered what looked like a serious ankle sprain on Horford’s charge to the basket in the final seconds of regulation, yet returned in overtime – added 16 points and 11 assists and Drummond 16 points and 12 boards. Villanueva had 14 points and seven boards, Daye eight points and 11 rebounds. Despite logging heavier minutes than the starters, the bench committed just eight of the team’s 18 turnovers.

And it was turnovers at the root of the sluggish start for the Pistons as they committed seven miscues in the game’s first nine minutes, enabling the Hawks to take a 26-10 lead. The second unit rallied them back within five points at halftime, but slipshod transition defense in the third quarter blew Atlanta’s lead out to 19 headed to the fourth quarter.

“It was all transition,” Frank said. “Fourteen fast-break points alone in the third quarter. I think going into the fourth quarter it was 34 fast-break points to our four. That’s a lot of easy baskets.”

“We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball,” said Greg Monroe, one of just two starters to score in double figures with 10 points. “Our turnovers led to a lot of transition points. They got too many easy buckets on the fast break. Our turnovers killed us tonight. (The bench) played great. They got us back in the game. It was kind of hard to see us lose that game just for those guys. They played their hearts out. I take my hat off to them. They did a great job.”

The Hawks wound up with a 36-9 edge in transition points, negating big Pistons advantages in second-chance points (25-8) and rebounding (62-47).

The 85 points scored by the bench were the most in the NBA since the Charlotte Hornets scored 85 in 1999.

“The second unit showed great resolve,” Frank said. “Being down 20 and to fight their tail off. We obviously had great opportunities to try to win the game. Unfortunately, the second overtime we just had too many mental defensive errors that led to some of their open shots.”