Pistons 'do it the hard way': Bullock, Griffin lead comeback win in OT
Minneapolis — Through three quarters, it wasn’t a game that was easy on the eyes.
The Pistons trailed by 14 points and were showing signs that they were ready to give in.
Then came the fourth.
And coach Dwane Casey challenged them to put up a better effort.
The Pistons responded, overcoming the deficit, taking the game to overtime in the final second and pulling out a 129-123 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at Target Center.
“Knowing we were down by 14 in that fourth quarter was tough. We came out that timeout when they had that run and Casey said, ‘Do you want to pack it up or win this game?’
“Obviously, we wanted to win. We buckled down defensively and made shots offensively and most importantly, we were having fun when we were out there.”
Blake Griffin had 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Reggie Bullock added a career-best 33 points, including going 7-of-12 on 3-pointers, and Reggie Jackson added 24 points and six assists for the Pistons (15-14).
In the fourth quarter, the Pistons whittled away, using a 16-5 spurt midway through the fourth quarter to tie it at 103 with 4:53 remaining. They finally took a 116-115 lead in the final minute on Jackson’s 3-pointer with 31 seconds left but Robert Covington (22 points) answered with a 3-pointer before Drummond’s dramatic putback with 0.6 seconds in regulation.
“We had it won in regulation but decided that we wanted to do it the hard way. Guys showed a lot of grit,” Casey said. “Win, lose or draw, when we play like that, good things will happen because you develop winning habits. Guys stayed together and fought together.”
In overtime, Drummond (16 points and 16 rebounds) made a stepback 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to give the Pistons a 123-122 lead with 2:43 left.
The Pistons never trailed again.
The Timberwolves (14-17) tied it on a free throw by Karl-Anthony Towns (16 points and eight rebounds) but Drummond split a pair of free throws to regain the lead. Jackson scored on a hesitation drive and made one of two free throws with 12.6 seconds left. Bullock hit two more free throws for the final margin.
Derrick Rose had 11 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
1. Drummond usually has good outings and production against Towns but couldn’t get things going on Wednesday night. Drummond went 5-of-7 from the field but his putback at the end of regulation and 3-pointer in overtime proved to be pivotal.
“When I got the pass from Langston, I saw the clock with 8 seconds and the corner 3 is something I shoot every day,” Drummond said. “It’s a shot I take all the time and I shot with confidence and knew it was going in.”
2. Casey had been using Jose Calderon down the stretch in the fourth quarter in the last two games but after Jackson had 14 points, on 4-of-7 shooting in the first three quarters, he got another look to finish regulation, with seven points in the final seven minutes of the fourth.
“It’s one of his better games. Everybody is going to look at his points but I looked at his decision-making, hitting the roll man,” Casey said. “He found the weak side and found Blake a couple times in the corner. Those are the plays your point guard has to play and he did a heck of a job in that.”
3. At almost every turn, the Wolves seemed to have more want-to and drive to get to loose balls and offensive rebounds. They led in second-chance points, 18-12, and even from the eye test, the extra effort wasn’t there for the Pistons through the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter and overtime, the Pistons had more juice and though the Wolves had a 49-44 rebounding edge, the Pistons made shots when it counted.
4. Jon Leuer had moved ahead of Zaza Pachulia in recent games as the backup center — some due to matchups and some due to improved play. Leuer got the minutes in the first half, but Casey went back to Pachulia in the third and fourth quarters, looking to get more muscle than versatility in the frontcourt. Both players were scoreless.
5. The Pistons shot 42 percent (20-of-48) on 3-pointers in the game and it was their saving grace, as they had to erase the 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and stay above water in the overtime period. Beyond Bullock’s seven 3-pointers, Griffin added five and Langston Galloway two.