Aldridge rallies Spurs past Pistons
SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs have won plenty of games this season, 16 of their first 24, in fact, but 13 of those were against teams with losing records. San Antonio needed to play a lot better to beat Detroit on Monday, and the Spurs found just enough to come from behind to defeat the Pistons 96-93 at the AT&T Center.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 17 points, including San Antonio’s final six points of the game, and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Spurs defeated a squad above the .500 mark for just the third time this year.
The Spurs got it done with clutch shooting down the stretch, seven players in double-figure scoring and a 51-42 edge on the glass against rugged Detroit.
The Pistons led 86-82 with 4:42 to play before Patty Mills canned a 3-pointer from well beyond the top of the circle to begin a 12-2 San Antonio run that granted the Spurs a 94-88 advantage with 1:51 remaining.
Detroit fashioned a final charge, getting to within 94-93 with 23.5 seconds left on a put-back by Andre Drummond. Aldridge then sank two free throws with 5.2 seconds to go, increasing San Antonio’s lead to 96-93.
After a 30-second timeout, Detroit got the ball to Tobias Harris, but his desperation 3-point attempt was partially blocked by Rudy Gay and was never close to the rim.
“We just kept playing for 48 minutes, and the guys did a heck of a job to hang in there, keep playing and trusting each other,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “There’s never one thing that’s the difference, but we had some great plays down the stretch from a lot of people.”
Pau Gasol hit for 15 points, Gay and Manu Ginobili added 12 points each, and Danny Green, Mills and Davis Bertans scored 11 points apiece for the Spurs, who have won five of their past six games. Gay and Gasol both had 10 rebounds.
“This was maybe our best win of the year,” said San Antonio’s Tony Parker, who had seven points. “We played a very good team, and they played very physical. They were hard on us, and we had to dig deep. We got a lot of great performances from a lot of guys.”
Detroit’s Reggie Jackson led all scorers with 27 points. Harris tallied 15, Stanley Johnson added 14 points, and Ish Smith and Drummond racked up 11 points each for the Pistons (14-9), who have lost three straight outings. Drummond added 15 rebounds and Johnson pulled down 10 for Detroit.
Avery Bradley, who averages more than 16 points per game, missed his first seven shots and finished with just three points.
“We had some looks that we like at shots that we just didn’t make, and that hurt us,” Harris said. “On that last play, I need to find a way to get a shot up that I can make, and I didn’t do as well on that as I can. We have to rebound better, be more physical and get those guys up off the glass.”
The Spurs had no answer for Jackson in the first half. He reeled off 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting as the Pistons built a 53-50 lead at halftime. The first half featured four ties and eight lead changes, with the biggest advantage being Detroit’s eight-point lead early in the second quarter.
Aldridge, who missed six of his first eight shots, and Gasol led the Spurs with nine points each at intermission.
The Pistons led 73-69 after three quarters mostly because San Antonio missed 12 of its 20 shots in the third quarter and lost its aggressiveness, not shooting a single free throw in the period.
However, all of Detroit’s good work was washed away by an 8-0 Spurs run to open the fourth quarter. Ginobili and Bertans poured in 3-pointers and Gasol hit a bucket that gave San Antonio a 77-73 lead. The game was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way.
“We had some good looks at threes that we couldn’t knock down and they did make them, and that was really the biggest difference in the game,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Down the stretch in the past two games, we’ve gone a little too much just one-on-one isolation. We have to be able to sustain our offensive energy better.”
NOTES: San Antonio F Kawhi Leonard, who has not played this season because of a quad injury, met with the media on Monday for the first time since late September but had no specific update on his rehabilitation or when he might return to game action. Leonard said he is working in five-on-five drills and is progressing but provided little insight how the injury occurred or into the process he is using to get back to the court. ... Detroit has lost seven of its past eight games in San Antonio. ... The Spurs didn’t shoot a free throw in the second half until F Rudy Gay converted a three-point play with 3:37 to play.