Blake Griffin steals the show late, Pistons win fifth straight

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons have taken advantage of the six-game home stand, playing some of their best basketball of the season during the string.

And piling up some wins.

Maybe the Blake Griffin trade has had something to do with it too.

BOX SCORE: Pistons 115, Nets 106

Either way, the Pistons are playing like one of the hottest teams in the league, taking a hard-fought 115-106 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena. It’s the fifth straight win for the Pistons, tying their longest streak of the season.

The win also pushes the Pistons (27-26) above .500 for the first time since Jan. 19, when they were in the midst of their eight-game losing skid.

That’s old news now.

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It’s on to the new news: the new Pistons frontcourt, which is putting up eye-popping numbers. Griffin finished with 25 points and seven assists, Stanley Johnson 19 points and three steals and Andre Drummond 17 points and a season-best 27 rebounds, with three steals and two blocks.

Griffin stole the show in the final minutes, with nine straight Pistons points, helping to stave off a furious Nets comeback.

Griffin was a one-man wrecking crew, getting the ball at the top of the key and working his magic, breaking down defenders and getting to the rim and finding shots — the superstar quality that coach Stan Van Gundy coveted in the trade.

“That’s why those guys are those guys: because what are you going to do — play him one-on-one or come on a double? (Griffin) can pass and he can score,” Van Gundy said. “He’s done some good things since he’s been here in the four games.

“That was his best offense for us. The last four minutes, he just took over and did a great job.”


The Pistons had a 97-88 lead with 5:58 left, after Griffin punctuated a 6-0 run with a back-down basket. The Nets’ Allen Crabbe (34 points) helped stem the tide, scoring 17 straight Nets points during a stretch of 3 minutes, 34 seconds. Crabbe had a 3-pointer and a steal and three-point play on the next possession, trimming the lead to three.

Griffin took control down the stretch, with a drive to the basket and a highlight-reel 3-pointer — after dribbling through his legs a few times, sending the crowd into a frenzy, with a 102-94 margin.

“That’s like an ace in your back pocket. We can just get two points on the board in a struggle situation,” Johnson said. “Allen Crabbe scores 10 in a row and brings it to three and we can just put the fire out with (Griffin).

“That’s a luxury I don’t think I’ve ever had here, to the extent that he’s doing it. I’m having a good time playing with him.”

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The Nets (19-37) got back within five after a lay-in by Jarrett Allen (13 points and 14 rebounds) and a 3-pointer by Joe Harris (18 points) with 3:00 left, but Bullock scored on a drive and Johnson hit a 3-pointer.

Brooklyn answered again with back-to-back lay-ins by Harris and Allen to get within 107-103, but the Pistons put it away with the next six points: Griffin scored on another back-down, Ish Smith (15 points and six rebounds) on a jumper and Drummond hit two of four free throws.

Crabbe hit another 3-pointer for the final margin.

Bullock said the streak is good for the team, but no one in the locker room is getting too high off the five straight wins.

“We definitely can’t be too high on it; it feels like one win to me,” Bullock said. “With an eight-game losing streak, with five, we have to get back over eight to get us out of that mindset. It’s tough to be in that position we were in but now we’ve won five and we just have to play well.”

Here are some other observations from the Pistons’ win:

■ The Pistons did a better job guarding Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who hit the winning shot in the previous meeting. Dinwiddie had 12 points, on 3-of-9 shooting, but added five rebounds and five assists and had five turnovers.

■ Caris LeVert (Michigan) didn’t play after suffering a concussion and leg sprain in the previous game. He was guarding a play at midcourt and ran into a screen, suffering both injuries on the same play.

■ Ish Smith continued to impress and turn things around at point guard, adding six rebounds and four assists to his 15 points. He was steady, going 6-of-14 from the field, including a 3-pointer. He had a similar turnaround last season, after struggling through the first 21 games with an 11-10 record while Reggie Jackson recovered from tendinitis.

■ Drummond had a mildly sprained ankle but moved well and was all over the glass. He’s finding good synergy with Griffin, playing on the block when Griffin is up high and then facilitating around the perimeter when Griffin is on the bench. It’s mixed results, as Drummond had just two assists, but he’s picking up his defense, with the blocks and steals.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard