The Detroit Pistons were looking for their first win streak in three weeks. They were also looking for their first road win against a Western Conference opponent this season. The New Orleans Hornets had other plans.
The game felt eerily similar to the one these two played at the Palace earlier in the season. Detroit raced out to a 14-4 lead. Brandon Knight knocked down a jumper, followed by a Jason Maxiell jump shot, a Jose Calderon 3, two Greg Monroe buckets, and a Kyle Singler 3. They were moving the ball beautifully and had an assist on their first 10 field goals.
The Hornets then answered back behind Eric Gordon. Gordon was knocking down shots left and right. Roger Mason Jr. made a 3 to cut the Pistons lead to 27-23 after one.
Rodney Stuckey came in and he started off nice. He made a turnaround jumper over Greivis Vasquez, had a driving layup, and he had another layup. Then he threw a pass to Vasquez and he got blocked by Robin Lopez. He was a non-factor the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, Monroe and Knight were terrific for Detroit. Monroe was active on the offensive boards and he took Lopez to school on the low block. Knight was aggressive taking it to the rim and being the scorer we all know he can be. They had all seven points in a 7-0 half ending run to take a 49-47 lead at the half.
Al-Farouq Aminu put New Orleans up 64-59 on a bank shot. Later, Knight had a deep 3 and then a layup for a 69-66 lead. Ryan Anderson hit a tough 3 to put the Hornets up 74-69 after three.
Late in the 4th, Knight tipped in his own miss but Gordon answered with a layup for a 91-84 lead. Calderon then fed Knight for an alley-oop, he found Maxiell for a layup, and then Knight had another deep 3 to the game at 91. Calderon found Monroe for a jam to give the Pistons a 93-91 lead with 1:58 to go.
New Orleans went up 96-93 on an Anderson layup, then Maxiell had a power slam while being fouled by Anderson. However, Maxiell missed the free throw and Detroit trailed 96-95. Vasquez had a tough layup to make it 98-95 with 12 seconds left.
Then, after a Lawrence Frank timeout, Calderon handed the ball off to Stuckey. He dribbled to the top of the key, he was guarded heavily by Vasquez. He had an open Singler in the corner, he had Knight coming off a screen, he also had Calderon getting ready, instead he took the contested 3 that wasn’t really close. Aminu hit two game clinching free throws. The Pistons fell 100-95.
I’ve had it with Stuckey’s selfishness. I’ve absolutely had it. Why Frank even had Stuckey on the floor in that situation is confusing. Why Stuckey even took the shot was confusing.
Why not let Knight, who had 22 points, take the shot? All the 2nd year player did was make clutch shots all night and he was in a groove. Why not go to Calderon? Calderon was 2/3 from deep tonight and he makes 52% of his 3’s. Stuckey is shooting less than 30% from deep. Yet he was on the floor. I just, really just don’t get it.
You could’ve even gone down to Monroe, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds on the night, and go for a quick 2 and foul. Frank’s decisions just continue to befuddle me. It could’ve been a tank move. Knowing they won’t make the playoffs, maybe Frank had Stuckey take the shot, knowing he’ll miss. Either way it’s confusing.