Pistons rally to beat Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY — At halftime, his team trailing by 10 points, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy lit into his players.
“I just didn’t think we fought hard,” Van Gundy said after Detroit pulled out a 99-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. “I thought we were sort of in the right spots at times in the first half but not with a commitment to really stop anybody and not with a commitment to rebound and things like that. I just thought our commitment to try to get the job done was a lot higher in the second half.”
That commitment showed through in Andre Drummond, one of the primary focuses of Van Gundy’s halftime talk.
The league’s leading rebounder had just two in the first half as the Thunder had 14 second-chance points while the Pistons had none.
Drummond had 12 rebounds in the second half to lift Detroit (12-6).
“Dre, that’s what he does,” Pistons guard Ish Smith said. “He’s the best rebounder in the NBA so he took that personally.”
Drummond added 17 points — 13 after halftime — to lead the Pistons. Smith scored 15 off the bench. Detroit outrebounded Oklahoma City 30-19 in the second half.
The Thunder led by as many as 15 points early in the game but couldn’t hold on.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder (8-10) with 27 points, adding 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
But Westbrook had to fight for every piece of offense he got, shooting just 10 of 29 from the floor and making just 1 of 10 from behind the 3-point line.
“The most important thing is to pick your spots,” Detroit guard Avery Bradley said of defending Westbrook. “He’s very aggressive, very athletic. You can’t pressure him too much. You can’t get off him too much. You have to pick your spots and give him different looks and try to make him work hard for every single shot he puts up.”
Westbrook’s final miss came at the buzzer, as Thunder coach Billy Donovan put the ball in Westbrook’s hands when the Thunder got the ball back with five seconds left and a chance to win.
“It was exactly what we wanted,” Donovan said. “I thought he generated a pretty good look for himself.”
Westbrook elevated over Bradley for a 3-pointer but the shot went in and out of the basket, sending Oklahoma City to its third loss in four games.
“You’ve got to see what’s open, what’s not open, who’s in the paint, where’s the open spot,” Westbrook said of his final look. “You’ve just trying to get space and get a shot off regardless of where it is.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 20 for the Thunder, whose big three — Westbrook, Anthony and Paul George — combined to go just 26 of 70 from the field.
For Detroit, it was the second win in five games as the Pistons are in the middle of a tough stretch with eight of 10 games against opponents with winning records.
“You’ve got to fight and you’ve got to dig out a couple (games) and stay in it,” Van Gundy said. “It was a huge win. ... Our guys fought hard.”
Detroit didn’t have a lead in the game until Smith attacked the basket for a layup with 10:41 remaining to put the Pistons up 81-79.
Four times, the Pistons led by four but Oklahoma City climbed back each time to make it a one-possession game, the latest when Andre Roberson drained a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left to pull the Thunder within one.
But Oklahoma City couldn’t take advantage after Detroit followed Westbrook’s driving layup in the final 30 seconds with Reggie Jackson’s miss that gave the Thunder one last chance.
“They actually ran the same play they ran before when he drove it to the basket,” Bradley said of the final shot. “I kind of had the feeling they were going to do it.
“Forced him to take a tough shot.”
NOTES: Pistons G Ish Smith hit a heave from just outside the 3-point line on the opposite end of the floor to end the first quarter. ... Oklahoma City PG Russell Westbrook went 6 of 7 from the free-throw line. No other Thunder player made it to the free-throw line until Jerami Grant in the opening minute of the fourth. Grant missed the shot, the only one of the night for a Thunder player outside of Westbrook.