The Detroit Pistons were on a three game slide and still trying to work new acquisition Jose Calderon into the lineup. The San Antonio Spurs were in the middle of their annual “Rodeo Road Trip”, were on an 11 game winning streak, and they have the best record in the NBA.
The Pistons used a team attack to start the game. After Danny Green put the Spurs on the board first with a 3, Kyle Singler, Calderon, and Jason Maxiell had buckets to put the Pistons up 6-3. Then Greg Monroe had a layup and Brandon Knight had a jumper. The Pistons took turns scoring their first 10 points.
Matt Bonner hit a 3 to put the Spurs within 15-14, the Pistons went on a 9-0 run. Charlie Villanueva started it with a jumper, Brandon Knight had a driving layup, Singler had a layup off a Calderon pass, and Knight hit Monroe for a jam. The Pistons led 24-14. Next possession, Monroe drew the double-team and kicked it out to an open Calderon for a 3 and a 27-16 lead. Calderon had a pull up to put the Pistons up 31-23 after a quarter.
The second quarter started with a Knight 3, he followed that up with 3 points the hard way, and Villanueva followed with a 3 for a 40-33 lead. Will Bynum had a layup, Monroe had a layup against Spurs big man Tiago Splitter, and Villanueva hit another 3 for a 47-34 lead. Kawhi Leonard answered with a hook shot for San Antonio, but Bynum had an And-1, and on the next possession found Rodney Stuckey who knocked down the 3 for a 53-36 lead. Spurs All-Star guard Tony Parker had a layup but Villanueva had another 3 for the 56-38 lead.
Parker had another layup and Splitter had a bucket, but Singler had a 3 for Detroit. Stuckey then had a pull up and Singler had a jumper off the Monroe screen and Detroit had a 65-44 lead with 1:42 to go until halftime. San Antonio answered with an 8-0 run to end the half. Bonner had a jumper, Green made a 3, and Splitter had an And-1. The Pistons had a 65-52 lead at the half. Easily their best scoring first half of the season.
The third quarter was the Monroe show. “The Moose” went to work. He rebounded a Knight miss and was fouled by Splitter, he knocked them down, and then he spun pass Splitter for the layup. After Monroe missed, Maxiell had a put back slam and he was fouled by Green. He completed the And-1. Two possessions later, Calderon drove and dumped it off to Maxiell. Maxiell rose up and threw down a thunderous slam. He almost pulled down the rim. Monroe then had a jumper off the Calderon feed and Monroe found Knight for a hook shot for and 87-75 lead. Monroe later had two free throws, a layup, and two more free throws. Stuckey concluded the scoring in the quarter with a layup. Monroe had 13 points in the 3rd quarter.
Being down 95-78 was somewhere the Spurs haven’t been in awhile, but they’ve proven they can come back. DeJuan Blair had two free throws and Stephen Jackson had a layup to make it 95-82. Bynum quickly answered with a layup and Villanueva had a hook shot to make it 99-82. Green then blocked Knight and he made a 3 on the other end. Parker followed with free throws to get the Spurs within 99-87. Stuckey would answer with a jumper but Jackson had an And-1 and then Green made a 3 to make it a 101-93 game and Pistons coach Lawrence Frank quickly called timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Villanueva knocked down an open 3 off a Monroe pass and Bynum took a Stuckey feed all the way to the cup for a layup to put Detroit back up 13. Green would hit another 3 for the Spurs and Parker had a layup to make it 106-98, Pistons. Singler had a tip in off a Monroe miss to make it 108-98. Leonard then made a 3 to make it 108-101.
Then Calderon found Knight who knocked down a very big 3 to push it back to 111-101. Knight then drove baseline for a floater and a 113-101 lead. Parker had a layup and free throws to make it 113-105 with 2:50 to go. Then Monroe found Villanueva for an open 3 that was the dagger. Detroit was up 116-105 with 2:01 left. The Pistons cruised from there for a 119-109 victory.
Monroe led the way with 26 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists, Knight had 24 looking very comfortable at the 2-guard spot, Villanueva came off the bench to score a huge 21 points, and Calderon had eight assists runnning the Detroit offense. Monroe played 40 minutes tonight as coach Frank stretched him out after the Pistons learned some sombering news earlier in the day. They learned that bouncy rookie Andre Drummond will miss 4-6 weeks with a lower back injury. He hurt his back in a Feb. 3 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He didn’t play in the 2nd half of the loss in New York on Monday and only played five minutes on Wednesday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Up next: a road game against division rival Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night. If the Pistons want to make one last desperate push for the playoffs, they have to beat current 8th place Milwaukee tomorrow night. It’s a must-win.