Memorable Pistons moments online: From NBA crowns to Palace chaos

John Niyo
The Detroit News

In the absence of live sports, TV networks are filling airtime by replaying classic games from the past, some involving our local teams. But if you need a stronger dose of Detroit-area sports to tide you over until the games begin again, we’ve come up with a list you can find online.

The Pistons celebrate their 2004 NBA championship after ousting the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NFL just made things easier for fans by making a decade’s worth of games available for free on Gamepass via Recent Major League Baseball games are relatively easy to find on YouTube. But same goes for other sports, and we’ve compiled a list of 10 memorable games from each of our four major pro franchises, as well as Michigan and Michigan State football and basketball.

Today, it’s the Pistons, who used to regularly play into June for all the right reasons:

Dec. 13, 1983 – Pistons 186, Nuggets 184 (3OT): Two fast-paced offenses produced the highest-scoring game in NBA history, one that was tied at 145 at the end of regulation. Isiah Thomas led the Pistons with 47 points and 17 assists, but the craziest stat is that there were just two made three-pointers in the entire game.

May 10, 1987 – Pistons 89, Hawks 88(highlights here): The basket was something, but the dance was something else. Isiah Thomas hit the game-winning layup with 1 second left in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but his little jig after the basket is what everyone remembers about this game.

June 3, 1988 – Pistons 95, Celtics 90: After suffering heartbreaking losses to Boston in 1985 and ’87, the Pistons finally dethroned Larry Bird and the Celtics, winning in overtime in Game 5 in Boston and then finishing the series back at the Silverdome.

May 31, 1989 – Pistons 94, Bulls 85: The “Jordan Rules” were on full display as the Bad Boys took control of the Eastern Conference finals by winning Game 5 at the Palace, holding His Airness to just eight shots all game. The Pistons would go on to win the series in Game 6 to head to the NBA Finals.

The Pistons celebrate their 1989 NBA title.

June 13, 1989 - Pistons 105, Lakers 97: The Bad Boys claimed their first title, avenging a loss to the Lakers in the Finals the year before and capping a dominant 15-2 run through the playoffs with a Showtime sweep. Joe Dumars was named Finals MVP, while the Lakers' fans saluted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's final curtain call as a player.

June 3, 1990 – Pistons 93, Bulls 74: The Pistons beat back the Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals for a second straight year. And this time it was Scottie Pippen’s migraine that added to Michael Jordan’s headaches, as Game 7 turned into a rout at the Palace. 

June 14, 1990 – Pistons 92, Trail Blazers 90: The Microwave warmed up at just the right time, as Vinnie Johnson’s late-game heroics in Portland — including the winning basket, James Bond-style — clinched back-to-back NBA titles for the Bad Boys.

The Pistons' Tayshaun Prince (22) blocks the shot of  Pacers guard Reggie Miller (31) late in Game 2 of the 2004 Eastern Conference finals in Indianapolis.

May 24, 2004 – Pistons 72, Pacers 67(highlights here): Detroit and Indiana set a playoff record for blocked shots in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. But none was bigger than the one Tayshaun Prince made to erase a Reggie Miller breakaway late in the fourth quarter — Doc Rivers’ reaction on the broadcast is priceless — evening the series and sending the Pistons on their way to another crown.

June 14, 2004 – Pistons 100, Lakers 87: The 2004 Lakers had a half-dozen Hall of Famers on their bench, including two coaches. But while the Lakers’ stars collided, the Pistons’ underrated talent — and chemistry — won going away, capped by this Game 5 coronation. 

Nov. 19, 2004 – Pacers 97, Pistons 82: They never played the final 45 seconds of this game, because the brawl that stopped play escalated to such an extent that local police were threatening locker-room arrests. The league went into crisis mode, and NBA commissioner David Stern later handed down a combined 146 games worth of suspensions. The Malice at the Palace was a night no one will ever forget.

Twitter: @JohnNiyo

Previous installments

Memorable Red Wings moments online: 1950, 2008 Stanley Cup clinchers among 10 extraordinary contests

Memorable Tigers moments online: Series heroes, JV's no-nos, Galarraga's close call