Detroit News beat writer breaks down Pistons' fifth-straight loss, which drops team (22-23) below .500 for the first time this season. Rod Beard
Detroit — The Pistons seemed to have the win in their hands. Andre Drummond scored on a drive with less than five seconds left and the fans at Little Caesars Arena were ready to celebrate a much-needed victory to end their skid.
It didn’t even take 4.7 seconds for things to shift from jubilation to frustration.
Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie took the ensuing inbounds pass, dribbled to the right elbow, faked and ducked under Ish Smith, then adjusted his shot when Andre Drummond came over to help, draining a 14-foot, go-ahead floater with 0.9 seconds remaining.
The desperation court-length pass for a last-second shot attempt was knocked away and the Nets held on for a 101-100 victory on Sunday, before a stunned crowd, who watched the Pistons overcome a 15-point deficit, only to fall short.
Pistons coach discusses the matchup on Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored with 0.9 seconds left. Rod Beard
“Ish played him well. Maybe should have more size on him at that point. You can’t criticize Ish’s defense; you could criticize my matchup on that,” a dejected coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I could have gone to a different matchup.
"Ish played him well; he didn’t get an easy shot. He got it over the top, fading away and Andre was coming to help. He made a hell of a shot.”
The loss is their fifth straight and eighth in the last 10 games and puts the Pistons (22-23) below .500 for the first time this season. Their last win was a 34-point scorching on Jan. 10 — at Brooklyn.
The win was especially sweet for Dinwiddie, whom the Pistons drafted in the second round in 2014 and was traded in June 2016 to the Bulls, then waived four months later. He signed a contract with the Nets and has flourished this season, given an opportunity.
Dinwiddie was the catalyst for the Nets (18-29), with 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer after the Pistons tied it at 94 on a Tobias Harris jumper with 2:16 left. Dinwiddie finished 9-of-13 shooting, including four 3-pointers, and added four rebounds and five assists.
“Any win we get is a good win,” Dinwiddie told YES Network after the game.
Harris had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Stanley Johnson added a season-high 18 points and Luke Kennard 13 for the Pistons, who have lost three straight at home.
The Pistons pulled within 97-96 on a tip-in by Drummond (seven points, 13 rebounds), who was in foul trouble and played only eight minutes in the fourth quarter.
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Former Michigan standout Caris LeVert split a pair of free throws and Johnson tied it with a flying tip-in on the next possession. LeVert was fouled again with 13.7 seconds remaining and split the pair, for a one-point lead.
Drummond’s final basket looked to be the winner, but Dinwiddie made a heady play to give them the win.
“Heck of a shot by Spencer, having the kind of sense to shot-fake first of all, get (Smith) in the air — just a heck of a shot,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Just good players making plays.”
The turnaround left the Pistons looking for answers and a way to get out of their tailspin. They got good contributions from their bench, but the issues continue to be their defense and lack of offense.
The Pistons shot just 39 percent through the first three quarters and 52 percent in the fourth.
“You’re going to have ups and downs in an NBA season,” forward Anthony Tolliver said. “The trick is minimizing these types of downs and maximizing the ups. At the end of the day, we just have to go get better and learn the little things.
"There’s nothing big; there nothing glaring. It’s the little things that add up over the course of 48 minutes that loses us these games.”