Pistons make the right plays down the stretch, hold off Pacers
Detroit — Already this season, Derrick Rose has had some critical decisions to make in the final seconds of games, including in a couple of Pistons losses to the Charlotte Hornets.
One pass resulted in a costly turnover and the other in a shot that didn’t beat the shot clock.
This time was different.
Rose had the ball in his hands in every key possession down the stretch — and he made all the right plays, with a couple of baskets and a nice pass to Blake Griffin for a 3-pointer, leading the Pistons to a 108-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s the third win in the last four games for the Pistons (9-14), who won the season series against the Pacers, 3-1.
Andre Drummond had 25 points, 22 rebounds, three steals and two blocks, Griffin 25 points and five assists and Rose finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“We knew it was going to be a playoff-style game,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought the last few minutes down the stretch were indicative of how the game should have been played: we boxed out, hitting people, and if you get a hard foul — not a dirty foul — but it was a body-to-body game down the stretch.”
Down the stretch, Rose was the catalyst, with some key decision making and getting his teammates the ball in the right spot at the right time. It’s the type of close game that the Pistons haven’t won many times this season but could be a catalyst for some momentum.
“It’s big. I just like the way we kind of stuck together. We got up early and then they kind of made a run in the first and third (quarters),” Griffin said. “We stayed together and it was great; guys had good communication on the bench and we got it done.”
In the fourth quarter, the Pacers (14-8) trailed, 99-98, after Malcolm Brogdon (21 points, five rebounds and five assists) split a pair of free throws with 1:38 remaining and tied it following a free throw by Domantas Sabonis.
Rose scored on a hook for the lead and after T.J. Warren (26 points) answered to tie it at 101, Rose drove into the paint and passed the ball out to Griffin, who was open at the top of the key for a 3-pointer that put the Pistons ahead for good, with 41.4 seconds remaining.
After a Pacers turnover, Rose added a floater on the next trip and Langston Galloway scored the final points on a breakaway lay-in in the closing seconds.
The Pistons led the game until late in the third quarter, when the Pacers got six straight points from Warren, for a 68-66 lead, at the 4:45 mark. Rose tied it on a reverse lay-in but the Pacers scored the next seven points, before Christian Wood finished the quarter with a 3-pointer, pulling the Pistons within 75-71.
Rose’s steady hand in the second half was a difference maker.
“That’s why he’s in in the fourth quarter,” Drummond said. “When we’re getting those close games out, those matchups are usually a good one for us. More times than not, he’s going to be able to be open to get his shot off or be open to get someone else’s shot off.
“He did a really good job today of finishing plays and making the right decisions.”
Drummond scored their first three baskets but the Pacers had an answer for each, including two by Sabonis (18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists).
Christian Wood and Rose provided a spark, scoring all the points in a 9-2 run, including a highlight-reel play by Wood, who saved a ball from going into the backcourt, then dribbled up and hit a 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired.
That pushed the Pistons ahead, 86-84, but it didn’t last.
The Pacers responded with seven straight points, with a three-point play by Myles Turner and consecutive baskets by Warren and Brogdon.
Drummond helped the Pistons stay close, with a pair of free throws and a putback off a Griffin miss. Bruce Brown had a 3-pointer, for a 7-0 run and the Pistons regained the lead, 93-91.
►Rose hasn’t had the same offensive production that he had earlier in the season. He’s had just one game of 20-plus points in his last six — some of which is due to reduced minutes in lopsided games — but it wasn’t about just points on Friday. Rose’s decision-making and speed gave them the boost they needed down the stretch. This time, he came through with some big baskets and good passes.
►With Markieff Morris out because of a neck issue, they leaned on Wood and Maker to make up the minutes. Wood played 17 minutes and had 11 points and four rebounds and Maker played six and didn’t score.
►Luke Kennard was in foul trouble for most of the first half, after picking up his third, and got his fourth early in the third quarter. He came back and hit a big basket late in the fourth quarter and gave them the offensive option they needed to spread the Pacers defense out.