Awestruck: Thunder 105, Pistons 104

Let's get this out of the way before I start raging again. The final sequence, after Charlie Villanueva put the Pistons up one (their first lead since leading 6-4 in the opening minutes), can be pretty much summed up with two pictures:

Jason Maxiell to Jeff Green...

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Bold strategy. Down one.

How many seconds left, Ben Gordon?

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That's right, but [behind the back dribble] what are you do... Pistons lose.

Heartbreaking. Broken living room objects. I haven't had such a high get knocked so far down so fast since "The Process."

It didn't have to end like this, though, if it didn't start the way it did. The Pistons had more turnovers in the first 12-plus minutes of the game than the entire Nets game (8) and had 13 overall in the first half. The Thunder converted those 13 turnovers into 22 points, which was a big reason they were up five at the break. The Pistons turned the ball over just five times in the second half and, in turn, outscored the Thunder 53-49 during the final 24 minutes.

And what makes this loss even more painful were the wasted games of Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon. Rodney Stuckey finished with 24 points, on 10-18 shooting, and nine assists (three turnovers) in 39-plus minutes. It was the best game of his career. He has only two other games during his short career in which he's scored 20-plus points with nine-plus assists, but he shot 32% and 35% in those two games, respectively. He also added five rebounds tonight.

Ben Gordon's had plenty of games like this in his career, but Pistons fans haven't seen it too often. 32 points on 11-16 shooting in 31-plus minutes. As George Blaha pointed out several times, some of his makes barely touched the net; that's how dead-on he was tonight.

Lastly, you have to feel bad for CV, who had his late, potentially game-winning three pointer wiped out by an even later game-winning bucket. Patrick Hayes at PistonPowered feels me.

Sigh. *Gag*

More stuff after the jump.

  • As was the case in the first game, CV was the team leader in plus-minus at plus-eight. He's plus-19 after two games. Tracy McGrady is plus-15 in 19 minutes.
  • Kuester used 13 different lineups tonight, but four of them saw a combined 25 seconds.
  • The starters, as expected, saw the most court time together (13:08) and were outscored 27-22.
  • Maxiell, CV, Prince, Stuckey and Gordon saw the second most time together (10:07) and were outscored 19-17. A slightly different, Maxiell, CV, Prince, Rip and Gordon saw two separate chunks of minutes (5:25 overall) and were outscored 10-8.
  • Maxiell, CV, Prince, Stuckey and Gordon outscored the Thunder 14-13 in the majority of the final 8:08.
  • Kuester started to mix-and-match around the 15 seconds mark. Here's how it went: Hamilton and Summers in for CV and Maxiell to foul. Maxiell and CV back in for Summers and Hamilton for CV's clutch three. (That's the second straight game Rip has not been on the court when a clutch shot was needed. As I've stressed before, he was the most "clutch" last year and has hit big shots in years past, but, nope, he was used as a defensive body to foul instead). Wallace replaced CV for that final possession.
  • A huge stat discrepancy is found in the FT column: 44 attempts for the Thunder to Detroit's 20. That's going to happen, though, when you can't hang with a team down low and the other team has a superstar who gets superstar treatment.
  • Pistons were out-rebounded 47-43. Pistons shot 47% (52% eFG) and Thunder shot 39% (40% eFG)
  • Both teams had 16 assists.
  • I was disappointed with certain possessions down the stretch when the Pistons had a chance to tie it, well before the final minute. For example, down three with 6:51 left, Jason Maxiell took a bad Loy Vaught-baseline shot early in the shot clock. It led to a fast break and BG committed a shooting foul. A minute later, down three, Stuckey grabbed a board and hustled down the court. When it looked like he was going to make a good decision and bring it back up top, he drove into traffic and got blocked. Finally, with three minutes left and down two -- Ben Gordon had scored 12 of the last 16 Pistons' points, Stuckey had the other four -- the Pistons all of a sudden decide to go to CV into the post. He attempts a half-hook and misses. Durant drills a shot on the other end.
  • Jeff Green was as shocked as anybody on that last play -- once he got the ball, Green desperately wanted to pass, which actually served as a great fake. The rest is history.
  • Another DNP for Greg Monroe. This one is a little more disappointing because Will Bynum was out, so it's one less person in the rotation, even if they don't play the same position. The Pistons can't really play while looking ahead to future games, but they do have another game in less than 24 hours IN Chicago. Monroe probably could've done what Maxiell did most of the night, too. I could've done what Maxiell did on the last possession.
  • Here is the NBA.com box score.
  • Hoopdata advanced box score.
  • Box score says there were 22,000-plus at The Palace but it didn't look nor sound like it. Further, Vince Goodwill said that fans were leaving with 1:53 left during a four-point game. That's sad, man.
  • I won't be around in the morning or early afternoon, so no morning shootaround. Kid Rock's offering free mustache rides, though.
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