'Epic game': Pistons outlast Bulls for 4-OT win

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Chicago — Back and forth. Forth and back.

And forth again.

And to a fourth overtime.

The Pistons have been on a roller-coaster ride in their turnaround season, but Friday night’s ride against the Chicago Bulls was one for the ages.

This time, the ride got rocky but they were able to buckle down and hold on.

It took four overtime periods — the longest game in Pistons franchise history — but they finally pulled out the victory, outlasting the Bulls, 147-144, in a back-and-forth marathon at the United Center.

BOX SCORE: Pistons 147, Bulls 144, 4 overtimes

The Pistons trailed in each of the first three overtime periods, clawing their way back from a four-point deficit in the third OT. They scored the first seven points in the fourth overtime, on a dunk by Andre Drummond, followed by a reverse lay-in and a three-point play by Reggie Jackson for a 134-127 advantage with 3:37 left.

That started a string of nine straight Pistons points for Jackson, who finished with 31 points, six rebounds and 13 assists, and had a strong close to a game for the second time this week.

Some of the numbers were eye-popping:

Drummond finished with a career-best 33 points and added 21 rebounds in a career-high 54 minutes — the first Pistons player with 30-plus points and 20-plus rebounds since Dennis Rodman had 34 points and 23 boards in 1991.

Five players scored at least 30 points, with the Bulls' Jimmy Butler notching a career best with 43 points.

“It was an epic game. You don’t play too many four-OT games. I’ve never been in one — it was incredible,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s only fun if you’re on our end of it at the end. It’s excruciating if you’re on their end of it and it’s excruciating while you’re going through it."

In the back-and-forth, three Pistons fouled out — Drummond, Marcus Morris and Stanley Johnson in the final overtime — but the Pistons held on down the stretch.

Butler scored 10 straight Bulls points in the fourth extra period, and got Chicago within 143-139 with 1:07 left.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a pair of free throws that could have put the lead at six with 15.1 seconds left and Butler made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one with 4.7 seconds remaining.

But Jackson saved the game, hitting two free throws with 4.4 seconds to go, boosting the lead to three. The Pistons held on after Butler’s desperation 3-point try missed at the buzzer. Jackson said he held his breath on the final shot, not quite convinced the game would be over.

“After the one he just made....I’m just happy it came up a little short and went wide right,” said Jackson, who scored 13 of the Pistons’ 20 points in the final overtime. “I am just happy to come out with the win tonight.”

The Pistons (16-12) looked to be out of it in the third overtime, but a pair of 3-pointers saved them. Morris hit one to cut the Bulls’ lead to one with 1:10 left and Caldwell-Pope’s 3-pointer with 36.9 seconds left tied it at 123.

In the third overtime, the Bulls were ahead by four after a Butler drive and a floater by Derrick Rose (34 points, eight assists) with 2:38 remaining. But Drummond hit back-to-back baskets to knot the score at 127 at the 1:36 mark.

“Wow. I really don’t have any words for that type of game — four overtimes,” Drummond said. “I’ve never been a part of that, and never seen one.

“Watching it is different than being a part of one. That was a lot. A lot of energy was put into that game — I’m glad we won.”

In the second overtime, the Bulls scored the first three points, with a ferocious dunk by Butler and a free throw. Drummond split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to two.  The Pistons got a defensive stop but couldn’t get a basket on the next possession.

The Pistons had a chance to take a three-point lead in the first overtime as Jackson took two free throws, but after he made the first, the Pistons were called for a lane violation, nullifying the second, for a 116-114 lead with 11 seconds left.

Jackson had several chances to win in the overtime periods, but the shots missed. In the end, though, he was able to help put the game away with the surge in the fourth extra period.

“We are just happy, just ecstatic,” Jackson said. “We are trying to prove ourselves night in and night out. A four-overtime win in a battle like this, I think we are coming out and making statements.”

On the ensuing possession, the Bulls’ Pau Gasol (30 points, 15 rebounds) got an easy bucket after Drummond left him to double-team Butler, tying it with 3.8 seconds left.

Jackson and Caldwell-Pope were in foul trouble throughout the game, but Johnson scored seven straight points to start the fourth period to give the Pistons an 81-80 lead with 8:49 left.

Johnson totaled 16 points and seven rebounds before fouling out, in one of the most complete games of his rookie season.

“Stanley played great for us all night. The way he played, I should have left him in for the whole game,” Van Gundy said. “He’s 19 years old and he hasn’t been in a lot of those … I thought he was really, really good.”

Butler had a basket and split a pair of free throws to put the lead back at two. The Pistons surged again, following a drive by Morris (20 points) and another pull-up jumper by Johnson, part of a 9-2 spurt — with another 3-pointer by Morris — to give the Pistons a 92-87 advantage.

The Bulls answered with Gasol’s three-point play and two more free throws to tie it again.

Jackson, who has taken the role of closing games out down the stretch, scored six straight Pistons points, including a jumper at the 3:00 mark for a 98-94 lead.

Chicago tied it again when Rose hit a jumper and Butler added a pair of free throws.

Tony Snell gave the Bulls the lead with a 3-pointer with 51.1 seconds left and Ersan Ilyasova split a pair of free throws, tying it at 103. After getting a loose ball, Gasol was fouled and made both free throws, pushing the Bulls ahead by two.

The Pistons were playing shorthanded, without reserve center Aron Baynes, who suffered from back spasms.

The Pistons led at halftime, 55-52 and trailed, 77-74, at the end of the third quarter before finishing tied at 105 at the end of regulation.