Detroit — For the most part, the Pistons had a simple offensive strategy: give the ball to Blake Griffin and let him go to work.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Time after time, possession after possession, Griffin got the ball and the Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t do much to stop him.
Griffin scored in the lane, from beyond the 3-point line and everywhere in between, on the way to a career-high 50 points, carrying the Pistons to a scintillating 133-132 overtime victory over the 76ers before a raucous Little Caesars Arena crowd that chanted “MVP! MVP! MVP!" several times during Griffin’s virtuoso performance.
He finished 20-of-35 from the field, including 5-of-10 on 3-pointers, and added 14 rebounds and six assists. It’s the most points for a Pistons player since Richard Hamilton scored 51 in 2006 and the most at home for the Pistons since Kelly Tripucka had 56 points at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1983.
It almost wasn’t enough.
The Pistons (3-0) trailed by two with 5.6 seconds remaining in overtime and coach Dwane Casey drew up an inbounds play that gave Griffin an open lane to the rim. He made the shot and was fouled, completing the go-ahead three-point play with 1.8 seconds left.
“He made a great read in that situation and completed the play,” Casey said. “That’s what great players do — and he made a play.”
Griffin was unstoppable, as the 76ers didn’t have an answer defensively, having to switch and use big man Joel Embiid to slow him down.
Nothing seemed to work.
Blake Griffin had a career-high 50 points and the Pistons improved to 3-0 Rod Beard, The Detroit News
“He was making problems in our defense all the time and we couldn't find a solution for him. Some of us tried to stop him and he just had an amazing day,” 76ers forward Dario Saric said. “We tried to do everything, but sometimes we can’t, you know?”
Griffin took advantage of the mismatch time after time, with an exceptional second quarter, going 9-of-10 from the field, for 22 points in the second quarter, the best of any period in his career.
He even made easy work of Embiid on a highlight-worthy dunk in transition
The Pistons had a 130-128 lead in the final seconds after two free throws by Reggie Jackson (23 points) but Jackson fouled J.J. Redick (30 points), who made the 3-pointer, to put the 76ers (2-2) ahead by two.
On their final possession, the Pistons ran the play for Griffin, who got to the rim, finished and made the go-ahead free throw.
“It was coach Casey’s call, a possible handoff or keep. He drew up a great play. Reggie came up with speed, everybody was in the right spots and we were fortunate,” Griffin said. “It starts with believing. Today, we believed this whole game. I never saw a moment where we were like, ‘All right, we tried.’
“Last year, I saw a lot of moments where guys were kind of just defeated but everybody stayed positive — and that’s huge.”
Blake Griffin had a career-best 50 points in the Pistons' overtime win against the Sixers Rod Beard, The Detroit News
The play completed an exciting back-and-forth matchup, where Embiid looked to be the star.
The Pistons didn’t have an answer for Embiid, who flirted with a triple-double with 33 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.
The Pistons jumped out quickly in overtime, with Griffin’s 3-pointer, which tied his previous career high of 47 points. Ish Smith (21 points) followed with a 3-pointer and the lead was 126-120 at the 3:50 mark. Redick answered with a three-point play and after a jumper by Jackson pushed the lead back to five, the 76ers had another answer, with a lay-in by Robert Covington (16 points and eight rebounds) and a 3-pointer by Redick, tying it at 128 at the 2:03 mark.
The game went down to the final seconds in regulation and the Pistons had a chance to move ahead, but Reggie Bullock’s floater in the lane rimmed out and the 76ers got the rebound with 9.5 seconds left. On their last attempt, Saric attempted a 3-pointer that was off the mark, sending the game to overtime.
The Pistons improved to 3-0 with their third straight one-possession victory. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
It almost didn’t get there.
Drummond (14 points, 16 rebounds and three steals) was ejected with 42.8 seconds left in regulation after picking up his second technical foul. Embiid made a lay-in and officials called a foul on Drummond for physical play.
On the play, Embiid appeared to flop but got a favorable call and Drummond was on the way to the locker room.
Redick uncharacteristically missed the free throw on the technical foul but Embiid’s basket gave the 76ers a 120-118 lead. Griffin tied it on a driving bank shot with 34.6 seconds left. Each team had a chance to move ahead, but neither shot went in and the game went to the five-minute overtime.
Embiid picked up two early fouls in the first three minutes and sat for the rest of the first quarter but had 15 points in the second quarter, as the 76ers rallied for a 64-61 lead at halftime. Besides Griffin’s 28 points, Jackson (11 points) was the only other player in double figures in the first half.