The Detroit Pistons were down by 18 points in the 3rd quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers used their star backcourt of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant to overwhelm the young Pistons.
To start the 3rd, Kyle Singler hit a 3 to bring the Pistons to within 62-54. Then a 10-0 ensued for the Lakers. Bryant had a jam, Earl Clark hit two free throws after a Jason Maxiell foul, Bryant had another jam off a Brandon Knight turnover, Bryant hit Pau Gasol for a layup, and then Nash had a silky smooth layup. The Pistons then had a shot clock violation and all seemed lost. They were down 72-54 with 8:00 to go in the 3rd.
Then coach Lawrence Frank sent in the man they call “Bynumite”. Will Bynum came in for a struggling Knight and all of a sudden the Pistons showed some life.
Bynum harrassed Nash into a double dribble violation. Rodney Stuckey then hit a banker to make it 72-56 Lakers. Greg Monroe then had a hook shot over Gasol and Stuckey followed that up with a nifty pass to Maxiell for a dunk. After a Bryant layup, Monroe answered with a layup off a Bynum feed. Gasol then had a hook shot to push the Lakers lead back to 12 and then Frank made another adjustment. In came Andre “The Giant” Drummond.
Bynum had a lob pass from the top of they key and Drummond soared through the air to grab it and slam it home. Then Monroe blocked Bryant and Bynum had a layup to bring Detroit to within eight. Drummond blocked Steve Blake and the Pistons were on the break. Bynum drove and then dished it behind him to a trailing Drummond who threw it down with authority over Gasol. Bynum hit Monroe for a hook shot and Detroit ended the 3rd on a 18-6 run to get to wihtin 78-72 after three.
Metta World Peace started the 4th with a fadeaway jumper and Antawn Jamison had a free throw to put Los Angeles up by eight. Bynum would answer with a layup but Blake answered with a 3. Bynum threw another lob to Drummond to bring the Pistons to within 84-77, but Jamison would knock down a 3 to bring the Lakers lead to 87-77. Detroit had an answer.
Charlie Villanueva kick started a 9-0 run with a floater. Knight, who came in for Stuckey, had a driving lyup, and Villanueva knocked down a big 3 off a Knight feed. Detroit was within 87-84 and then a big highlight play. Nash threw a cross court pass that Drummond picked off. Drummond ran up court and passed it to a streaking Knight. Knight gathered, jumped, and threw down a ridiculous tomahawk slam over Gasol. That’ll soon be a poster and the Pistons were within 87-86 with 6:34 to go.
Nash would answer with a jumper, Bynum would answer with a layup, and Bryant got pass Singler for an easy bucket. Then Bynum drove and found an open Villanueva for 3 and he tied the game at 91 with 4:36 to go. The Palace was rocking. Bryant turned the ball over and Bynum found an open Singler in the corner. But his 3 rattled in and out and the Lakers scored four straight points on a Gasol jumper and Nash hit a pull up that was nearly a 3.
The resilient Pistons had an answer. Bynum drove and had a wrap around pass to Drummond for a dunk. Gasol missed for Los Angeles and Detroit had a chance to tie. Bynum would miss the jumper, Singler would miss the tip, but Villanueva grabbed the ball and laid it up and in for a 95-95 tie with 2:06 to play.
Bryant missed a jumper and Detroit had a chance to take their first lead since 33-32 in the 2nd quarter. Knight was open in the corner but missed the 3. “The Mamba” then struck. Bryant drove pass Singler, was fouled by Singler, and got the layup to go. The Lakers had a 98-95 lead with 1:09 to go. Bynum would get a layup to go to make it 98-97 and then things got interesting.
Gasol missed for LA and after a broken possession, Drummond found himself outside of the paint. He put up a fadeaway over Gasol but it wouldn’t go. Clark was fouled by Singler. Clark however missed both. Detroit was still alive. Bynum made a move past Bryant, put a shot up off the glass, but the ball was halfway down and it spit the ball back out into the hands of Nash. Nash was fouled by Knight and Bynum looked dejected.
Nash stepped to the line an automatic two, right? Normally, yes. But Nash missed both free throws and the Pistons had one last chance down 98-97 with 1.2 to go. Singler couldn’t find Knight, Bynum, or Villanueva and lobbed a pass to Drummond. Drummond got a hand on it but he couldn’t get it to fall. It looked like Gasol fouled Drummond, and I truely believed he did, but the whistles were silent. The Pistons fell 98-97.
Monroe led the Pistons with 20 and 11 boards, Bynum had 18 and 10 assists, Drummond had nine points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks, Knight had 10 and seven assists, and Villanueva had all of his 10 points in the 4th quarter. Jose Calderon was behind the bench again taking notes on his new teammates and he could join the team in New York tomorrow night. He still has ongoing visa issues.
The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Clippers 106-104 and Detroit has fallen now 6.5 games back of the 8th place Celtics with 34 games left. Still time to make one last run, but it needs to happen now.