Defensive lapse costs Pistons in OT loss to Clippers

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Andre Drummond gambled and lost.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin was backing down the smaller Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looking for the game-winning shot when Drummond left his post and tried to help out with the game tied 102-102 Monday.

The problem was Griffin is one of the game's best passing big men and Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy wanted to take his chances with Griffin without a double team. Drummond left his inside post forcing Marcus Morris to leave Jamal Crawford open and defend the paint.

There was no one within 10 feet of Crawford and he buried the three-point shot to give the Clippers a 105-103 overtime victory over the Pistons at The Palace.

BOX SCORE: Clippers 105, Pistons 103 (OT)

It was the Pistons modern day Rasheed Wallace leaves Robert Horry in the 2005 NBA Finals against San Antonio.

"It was just an instinct thing," Drummond said. "He just made that play. I went up and tried to help out."

It was Griffin's seventh assist to go along with 34 points and five rebounds.

Van Gundy didn't like Drummond's decision and was vocal about it during his postgame press conference.

"He just decided to go on his own," Van Gundy said. "We need to be on the same page and know we are going to do it so we can be in our rotations. He was totally on his own. It had nothing to do with anything we talked about."

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This was an early season heavyweight boxing match.

Tempers flared. Bodies were thrown around like discarded garbage and a crowd of 13,525 cheered every move. It was a game of high spirit and fight and spite that boiled to an exciting conclusion.

Fans cheered former Piston Grant Hill who sat at half court and they booed former Pistons Josh Smith, who came off the bench for the Clippers.

Even after his gaff Drummond was still a tip-in away from being a hero.

Reggie Jackson (34 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) missed a free throw with 9.3 seconds remaining. Drummond was open underneath the basket, but he missed a tip-in near the basket. Jackson grabbed the rebound and missed from two feet and then an off balanced jumper from the side of the basket. Drummond said he did not rush the tip because he feared being fouled. He simply missed.

"We were thinking we would go into double overtime, but unfortunately the ball didn't go in," Drummond said. "I got a tip as well and I got a good look at it. It didn't drop and then I was just trying to make something happen."

The Clippers go home with a 4-1 record following a five-game Eastern swing.

On the game-winning play J.J. Redick wasn't in position at first. Griffin waited and found him in the perfect spot.

"It was a great play for me to get a three or Blake to get a layup," Redick said. "As Andre came over, I saw Blake look to the corner and I wasn't there yet. So, he kind of trusted me that I would get there and I got there in time."

Redick was trouble all night. He ran Kentavious Caldwell-Pope off screens and scored 24 points and made half of his eight three-point shots. He was feeling it and felt comfortable hitting that last shot.

Redick sent the game into overtime with a three-point shot as the Clippers erased a six-point deficit over the final three minutes.

The Clippers led by as many as 13 points because they were sharper and crisper early on. Their offense was fluid and the Pistons' sluggish. However, the Pistons fought to the end.

Van Gundy was disappointed with the Drummond decision, but decided it wasn't the time to pile on his team afterwards.

"I thought our guys played really hard," he said. "It was a pretty good game and I thought, you know, a bucket here a bucket there, make some free throws, rebound here, rebound there a call here, you know it was a really hard fought game."