Pistons rally to force OT, but can’t prevent a 5th straight loss as Miami hangs on
Mary Kate Ridgway/NBAE/Imaging
Three quick observations from Monday night’s 120-115 overtime loss to the Miami Heat at Little Caesars Arena
ANOTHER OT – The Pistons rallied from 12 points back in the fourth quarter to force overtime, but lost Blake Griffin in the midst of the run with six fouls. It likely would have been Griffin taking the shot to win the game on the last overtime possession, but instead it was Reggie Jackson making the right read and finding Glenn Robinson III wide open for a corner three. He missed, Miami cleaned up the rebound and that was it – a fifth straight loss for the Pistons to put them under water at 4-5 for the season. It was their third overtime decision in nine games. Andre Drummond’s tip-in of Jackson’s floater with a half-second left sent the game to overtime and Jackson scored seven of the team’s10 points to put them ahead 115-113 with 1:27 left. But Miami’s Josh Richardson tripled on the next possession to put the Heat back in front. Langston Galloway’s shot was blocked and then Josh Richardson missed to give the Pistons the chance to win it. Without both Luke Kennard and Reggie Bullock, the Pistons’ lack of depth was evident in the fact that they were outscored off the bench 44-25 with all but four of the team’s bench points coming from Galloway. He scored 17 in the third quarter when Miami scored 35 points to open a seven-point lead after the game was tied at halftime. Drummond finished with 25 points and 24 rebounds – his fourth 20-20 game of the season – while Griffin fouled out with 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in 40 minutes. Jackson finished with 25 points.
LINEUP CHANGE – Alarmed by what he termed “atrocious starts,” Dwane Casey made a change to his starting lineup not induced by injury. Glenn Robinson III was in, Stanley Johnson out. Johnson, a 25 percent 3-point shooter and 35 percent shooter overall, had committed 14 turnovers over his last four games and Casey decided Robinson’s threat of the 3-point shot – he’s been a 40 percent shooter from the arc the last two seasons – could help loosen up a struggling offense. Robinson scored 10 first-half points, but picked up his fourth foul in the first minute of the third quarter. He finished with 16 points, hitting 2 of 4 from the 3-point arc – and he was on the verge of being the hero if his last shot had also fallen. The other tweak to Casey’s rotation came when he added a 10th player, making Jon Leuer part of the second unit. Leuer and Zaza Pachulia both spent four first-half minutes on the floor, including the last two minutes of the first quarter side by side. The Pistons were outscored 10-4 in the last two minutes of the quarter. Casey didn’t go back to Leuer in the second half, except to guard the inbounds pass on Miami’s possession with a half-second left in regulation, using Johnson at power forward when Blake Griffin rested and then Robinson after Griffin fouled out with 49 seconds left in regulation.
TURNOVER TROUBLE – The Pistons averaged just 10.3 turnovers in winning their first three games of the season, then extended the streak to four despite coughing it up 20 times when they beat the then-winless Cleveland Cavaliers Oct. 25. Since then, only once have they managed to keep their turnover total under 12 – Dwane Casey’s goal for his team. The Pistons committed eight turnovers in Monday’s first quarter and 13 in the first half on their way to 20. Miami’s aggressive sinking defense and doubling in the post was responsible for a number of turnovers as Zaza Pachulia committed three in four first-half minutes and Andre Drummond had three more. They cleaned it up after halftime, committing only one in the third quarter – yet Miami still managed to score 35 points in the quarter to take an eight-point lead after the game was tied at halftime – but another spate of turnovers hamstrug their fourth-quarter comeback chances. Three big missed Miami free throws – one by Goran Dragic, two by Dwyane Wade – in the final minute cracked the door for the Pistons to force overtime.