Pistons rally, let late lead slip away and fall in OT for crushing 6th straight loss
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DETROIT – All-Star? They ought to bypass the All-Star game and just grant Andre Drummond Hall of Fame status after what he did against Utah: 30 points, 24 rebounds, four assists, six blocked shots and three steals.
The last time somebody did that was … never. They’ve only been keeping track of things other than points and rebounds with precision since 1973-74 and Drummond is the only player in recorded history to put up such numbers.
And still it wasn’t enough.
That’s what happens when the four other starters shoot 14 of 47. Or when the Pistons turn the ball over 20 times, shoot 9 of 47 outside the paint and get so little from the two players who have to be their primary scorers while Reggie Jackson is idled, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley.
“When you want to win that bad, you’re willing to do whatever,” Drummond said after the overtime loss, the sixth straight defeat as the Pistons fell to 3-10 without Jackson. “I don’t even care about the stat line.”
The stats were going to be ugly, Drummond’s aside, no matter how the game turned out. But deep into the fourth quarter, Drummond put together his most dazzling stretch of the night. Over the span of 100 seconds – from 4:57 left, when the Pistons trailed by a point, to 3:17, when they led by nine – Drummond was at the center of everything.
First he split a pair of free throws to tie the game. Then he grabbed a defensive rebound at one end and dunked at the other off of a fine set-up by Stanley Johnson. Next came a clean strip of Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell in the open floor finished with a breakaway dunk to put the Pistons ahead by four. He contested Mitchell’s missed runner at Utah’s end and grabbed Ish Smith’s missed layup and converted in the next sequence to make it a six-point lead. Then he made a marvelous block of Rudy Gobert’s dunk attempt to spring a Pistons fast break that culminated in a Tobias Harris 3-point shot.
For as difficult as everything proved to be for the Pistons all night, they suddenly had a nine-point lead – the biggest for either team all night – with just over three minutes to play.
The thought running through everyone’s mind at that point: For as frustrating as the night had been, the Pistons were going to snap their losing skid, escape with a win and get back to .500.
“I thought so,” Harris said. “They kept chipping and we didn’t convert offensively, so they were able to tie it up at the end of regulation.”
The triple was Harris’ only 3-pointer of the game in five tries. Bradley was 0 for 4. Stanley Johnson, starting for the injured Reggie Bullock, made his first and missed his last six. And Harris’ triple was the last basket the Pistons made in regulation. Joe Ingles tied it for Utah on a layup off an inbounds play with 4.5 seconds to play and Luke Kennard’s clean look from the 3-point arc at the buzzer missed, as well.
“We stayed with what we thought was our best defensive lineup other than (Anthony Tolliver) for Tobias and thought we could get the stops to win it,” Stan Van Gundy said. “But we didn’t get a bucket. It’s going to be hard to shut people out.”
Van Gundy tried to jump start an offense that ranks 28th in the NBA without Jackson by inserting Langston Galloway into the starting lineup for Ish Smith. But nothing worked and he found himself at a loss to dial up plays when nobody besides Drummond could put the ball in the basket.
“Who are you going to go to? Andre had a good night. (Tolliver) went 2 for 3 (from the 3-point line). Our centers played well offensively. And other than that, everybody else struggled. Offensively, you need a bucket to close it out and we couldn’t get one.”
Harris finished with 13 points, shooting 6 of 17. Bradley – though he was outstanding in defending Mitchell – was even quieter, finishing with six points on 3 of 11 shooting.
“It’s tough. That’s part of their responsibility and they know it,” Tolliver said. “They know they have a lot on their shoulders and we depend on them every night. Same thing with Andre. He was great tonight and kept us in the game. But that’s a part of it. Whenever you have huge responsibility, you’ve got to be able to do it. As his teammates, we’re going to do whatever we can to support and try to help and get wins. We had some guys struggling offensively and just couldn’t figure out a way to get a win.”