The San Antonio Spurs kept giving the Detroit Pistons hope. Brandon Jennings made the most of a last-second opening.
The Pistons guard took a bad inbounds pass by Tim Duncan and drove the length of the court in the final seven seconds, weaving through San Antonio’s backpedalling defenders, to bank in an 11-foot jumper. The shot Tuesday lifted Detroit to their sixth straight victory, 105-104.
His bucket backed up double-doubles from Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe and the Pistons rallied from 18 points down in the first half.
“We are getting better,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “If you stay in there, sometimes you get a break. We had a very good break at the end. We got lucky at the end. Our resolve to stay in the game right down to the last few seconds was huge.”
Drummond had 20 points and 17 rebounds and Monroe added 17 points and 11 boards, as the Pistons snapped a four-game skid in San Antonio (21-15). DJ Augustin added 19 points for Detroit (11-23), who have not lost since waiving Josh Smith on December 22.
San Antonio point guard Tony Parker played just 13 minutes in his return from a five-game absence due to a strained left hamstring. He was 0-for-3 shooting and had just two assists, but he did not appear to aggravate the injury.
“He wanted to play, but I’m being conservative,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He had 13 minutes. That’s good after sitting out as long as he did; make sure he doesn’t reinjure the thing.”
Parker had missed 13 games total due to the injury, returning twice for a single game only to aggravate his hamstring. The Spurs were 6-7 in Parker’s absence.
It was part of an odd night for the defending NBA champions.
The Spurs rallied behind five three-pointers in the fourth quarter, but were 4-for-7 on free throws in the final 2 minutes.
San Antonio opted to intentionally foul Detroit’s Jodie Meeks after Patty Mills made 1-of-2 free throws with 10.8 seconds left to give the Spurs a 104-101 lead.
Popovich was succinct when asked why he fouled in that situation.
“Because I wanted to,” he said.
Meeks made both shots, pulling the Pistons within 104-103 with eight seconds remaining.
Those final eight seconds were the only time Duncan was on the court in the final quarter.
“I made different choices,” Popovich said of his decision to sit Duncan.
Duncan’s inbounds pass went off Mills’ hands and was gathered by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who passed it to Jennings. Unsure if there was a timeout remaining, Jennings charged down court.
“Once I got to the frontcourt, I was open for the three, but I was like, ‘I’m not going to shoot the three,” Jennings said. “Once I saw (Boris) Diaw get on the outside, I’ve got a good opportunity to go past him and I shot the floater off the glass.”
After an official review, 0.1 seconds were placed on the clock, but the Spurs were unable to tip the ball before time expired.
Jeff Ayres had a season-high 16 points and Duncan added 15 for the Spurs.
After trailing by 18 points early in the second quarter, Detroit opened the third on a 23-11 run to take their first lead of the game. The surge included a 10-0 run capped by a pair of free throws by Monroe for a 72-69 lead with 5:11 remaining.
AROUND THE NBA
Suns 102 (21-16), Bucks 96 (18-18)
Markieff Morris scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Phoenix Suns to the win.
Isaiah Thomas added 19 and Goran Dragic 16 for the Suns, who have scored a 100 or more points for nine straight games.
Brandon Knight scored 26 and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 16 for the Bucks, who lost their fourth straight at home.
The Suns have won nine of the last 11 and opened the four-game road trip with their third consecutive victory. They also upped their record to 8-1 over Eastern Conference opponents.
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