Comeback Comes Up Short

Pistons rally to force OT, but Anderson’s 2 late triples lead to 3rd straight loss


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

WHITE HOT – The Pistons, playing uphill all night, finally drew even with New Orleans with eight minutes left in regulation before eventually losing 111-106 in overtime as Ryan Anderson hit two straight triples after going 2 of 10 from the arc to that point. The Pistons held New Orleans scoreless for six minutes to tie the game at 83. They had two chances to win at the end of regulation, but Brandon Jennings missed two jump shots. Greg Monroe scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his return to his hometown to lead the Pistons. Anderson finished with 22 for the Pelicans.

BLUE COLLAR – Rodney Stuckey returned after missing 2½ games with tendinitis in his left knee and picked up where he left off. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate was instrumental in the Pistons rallying back from double-digit deficits in both the first and second quarters with 10 first-half points on just four shots, hitting 4 of 4 free throws. Stuckey finished with 20 points in 33 minutes but missed overtime after injuring his hand/wrist late in the fourth quarter.

RED FLAG – The free throw line hurt the Pistons again as they missed 10 of 27 attempts, including four straight misses after tying the game at 83 in the fourth quarter. Andre Drummond didn’t contribute to the misses, not attempting any foul shots. Greg Monroe’s otherwise superb game was marred by a 2 of 7 night at the line. The Pistons remain last in the NBA in free-throw percentage at 67 percent. New Orleans, meanwhile, hit 26 of 32 foul shots.

For three quarters, Big Easy aptly described the way New Orleans got to the rim and scored against the Pistons. Playing their fourth game in five nights against a team that hadn’t played since last Friday, a road comeback from 12 points down seemed about as likely as Bourbon Street running out of, well, bourbon.

But come back the Pistons did. Outrebounded by 38-22 through three quarters, they grabbed 21 in the final quarter and overtime and closed the gap by half. They shut down the paint that New Orleans guards Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans penetrated repeatedly in wracking up 83 points through three quarters. And they rode Greg Monroe, who grew up down the street, to put themselves in position to win.

They might have, too, but Brandon Jennings, whose hot shooting in the first half kept the Pistons from being run out of the building, missed two long jump shots on the final possession of regulation and Ryan Anderson – an elite 3-point shooter who missed 10 of 12 shots behind the arc in regulation – nailed two big ones in overtime to send the Pistons to their third straight loss after they won four straight last week.

For much of the night, it never looked like they’d come close to needing an overtime. New Orleans scored on 14 of its first 17 possessions to take a 29-18 lead in the first eight-plus minutes as Holiday, Gordon and Tyreke Evans – who sprained his ankle last Friday and was supposed to miss a minimum of one week – penetrated repeatedly to set up easy scores.

“It’s on Greg and I, we’ve got to figure it out,” Andre Drummond said. “We can’t continue to let guys come in our paint and do those type of things to us. It’s a building process. We’re going to figure it out. It’s not going to happen for too long.”

The Pistons had stretches where they would put it together at both ends, enough to stay close. They kept the Pelicans scoreless on six straight possessions to pull within a point after one quarter with a 10-0 run, then a 7-0 run late in the second quarter and a 12-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters kept eating into New Orleans leads.

Against all odds, they appeared the fresher team headed to overtime. But Anderson’s triples and New Orleans’ superior foul shooting spared the Pelicans a home giveaway and kept the Pistons from completing a comeback that would have erased the sting of Tuesday’s lopsided home loss to Minnesota.

"We can’t put ourselves in the hole like that."

- Greg Monroe on the loss
Full game quotes
If there’s something for the Pistons to take out of the game, it was whatever they found defensively in the fourth quarter, when they held the Pelicans to 13 points after they’d dented them for 29, 28 and 26 over the first three. During their four-game win streak, the Pistons improved their defensive numbers markedly while holding all four opponents under 100. But Miami scored 110 – OK, it’s Miami – and Minnesota an alarming 121. The Pistons patched up their pick-and-roll defense in the fourth quarter and managed to contest jump shots, as well.

“We got a little better on-the-ball defense,” Maurice Cheeks said. “In the first half, they were breaking us down defensively. They were getting inside the paint too easily. In the second half, we closed off their bigs, got a lot better stopping the dribble and we closed off the paint a little more.”

For all of that, they might have won if not for a few things that surely made the trip home a little more troubling. The Pistons again misfired too often at the foul line, missing 10, including a 2 of 7 showing from Monroe that put a damper on his 28-point homecoming.

“We can’t put ourselves in the hole like that,” Monroe said. “I missed some free throws. Technically, if I make one more free throw, we win the game. There were some good things we did, but we didn’t win the game.”

The other haunting specter was getting Rodney Stuckey back from knee tendinitis only to lose him to a thumb injury. Stuckey scored 20 to nicely supplement Monroe’s big night and Jennings’ 25 points, but he was on the bench in overtime with a bag of ice strapped to his hand. The injury happened late in regulation and it was clear Stuckey was hurting when he took a dribble handoff from Jennings with about 12 seconds left in regulation only to pass it right back.

“Not having him out there was tough, having our bulldozer out there to get us some fouls down the stretch,” Drummond said. “But it happens. We’ve got to figure it out.”

They’ll get to do it at home, and against the backsliding Brooklyn Nets, on Friday after a much-needed day off after playing seven games over the last 10 days.