Auburn Hills — With the game hanging in the balance in the final seconds, Marcus Morris just tried to get in position to get a rebound.
He was on the opposite side of the rim as Tobias Harris went up with what would have been the go-ahead shot with a little more than a second remaining. Morris got the rebound and tipped it in just before the buzzer, over his twin brother Markieff, as time expired.
There’s a first time for everything — and this was Marcus’ first buzzer-beater, sending the Pistons to a thrilling, 113-112 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night at The Palace.
It’s the third straight win for the Pistons (21-24), who have their longest winning streak since completing a three-game road sweep on Dec. 2. It was their second consecutive win against a team ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings, as they’re inching closer to the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, who entered the day tied for the No. 8 spot.
Morris’ winning tip-in gave him 25 points and 11 rebounds, saving the Pistons from a crushing loss, as they gave up a 16-point lead they held after the third quarter but the Wizards (23-20) chipped away at the deficit and took a 110-109 lead on a dunk by Markieff (19 points and nine rebounds) with 2:14 left.
“The game is 48 minutes; everybody gets into those things. They’ll get more credit for coming back from 16 down than we will for winning the game,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “That’s fine; that’s the way it goes. It’s all about wins — we got one, so let’s just keep getting 16-point leads.”
The last two minutes went back and forth, as Marcus connected on a jumper for a 111-110 lead, then Bradley Beal (17 points) was fouled on a drive to the basket and made both free throws. On the next trip, Marcus had a shot blocked by Markieff, a play which initially was ruled goaltending and a basket for the Pistons, but after video review, officials overturned the call and the Wizards got the ball with 51 seconds remaining.
John Wall (19 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists) missed a jumper, giving the Pistons their last gasp on the final possession. Morris said he knew the final shot was over his brother but wasn’t sure initially that it came before the final buzzer.
“I grabbed him. I had my hand on his shoulder and I got him back because he blocked my shot on the play before that,” Marcus admitted. “I knew that was him and you can’t make that call at the end of the game. It is what it is.”
The Pistons had three missed shots on the final possession: a jumper by Reggie Jackson, a blocked 3-pointer by Harris and another putback by Harris, which had a fortuitous bounce to Marcus.
Jackson had 19 points and eight assists and Harris 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Pistons, who look to sweep their three-game home stand on Monday against the Sacramento Kings.
Stan Van Gundy talks to the media after the Pistons' win over the Wizards. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
The Wizards, who had seven players score in double figures, started the game with a 9-0 lead, but the Pistons whittled away, using a 10-0 run — with a 3-pointer and pair of free throws by Marcus — plus a 3-pointer by Jon Leuer (10 points) to pull ahead, 25-19. They pushed the lead to 61-55 after a drive by Ish Smith with 2.4 seconds left before halftime.
The Pistons used a 37-point third quarter, hitting 59 percent (13-of-22) from the field, to pull ahead, 98-82.
Because of foul trouble with centers Andre Drummond (three points, 10 rebounds in 18 minutes) and Aron Baynes (nine points in 16 minutes), the Pistons’ rotation was off, forcing Van Gundy to use Boban Marjanovic for a stretch and then Leuer as the center in the fourth quarter.
“We had a ton of foul trouble, which really got us caught in the fourth quarter,” Van Gundy said. “That’s where the lead started to disappear because I had Marcus and Tobias both on the bench because Andre and Aron’s foul trouble forced us to play Jon with the two forwards and then we had foul trouble with (Reggie) Bullock.
“We had so much foul trouble that we got caught with lineups that weren’t ideal for us.”