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How the Pistons formed 'a f-cking wall' to defend the Spurs' final shot

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A private moment between a head coach and his team quickly became Internet lore after cameras captured Stan Van Gundy telling the Detroit Pistons "we just form a fucking wall" in the final moments of Tuesday's shocking win in San Antonio.

The Pistons had just taken a 105-104 lead after Andre Drummond stole Tim Duncan's inbounds pass, resulting in Brandon Jennings going the length of the court to score the game's deciding points. But an official review of the play put 0.1 seconds back on the clock, giving the Spurs one last chance to score.

With such little time on the clock, the Spurs really had just one option: an alley-oop tip from the sideline. NBA rules dictate at least 0.3 seconds must remain for a true catch and shoot – as Rodger Sherman points out at SBNation.com, it's known as the Trent Tucker rule, named after the New York Knicks guard who took advantage of a slow Madison Square Garden timekeeper to drain a game-winner against the Chicago Bulls in 1990, even though replays showed the clock didn't start until the shot was in the air. By the following season, the NBA added the following to their rule book:

The only type of field goal which may be scored if the game clock and shot clock are at :00.2 or :00.1 is a "tip-in" or "high lob."

So when Van Gundy urged his players to "form a fucking wall," he was essentially saying to guard the paint, since the only play that could beat them was an unlikely tip – and the highest-percentage tip would happen close to the basket. Did they listen? Judge for yourself:

wall gif

Ultimately, the play worked – Duncan lobbed the ball to a wide open Manu Ginobili at the foul line extended, who unsuccessfully punched the ball in the direction of the basket. On a play like this, guarding the paint is a much bigger priority than the foul line – Manu's "shot" wasn't even recorded as an official field-goal attempt, at least looking at NBA.com's play by play.

But look closely: that wall was a little leaky, as Drummond and Jodie Meeks let 6-foot-9 Jeff Ayres, No. 11 in the GIF above, sneak past.

Had Duncan lobbed the ball to the rim instead of Ginobili, Ayres may have had a chance to be the hero. It would have been extremely difficult, but arguably less so than Ginobili's feeble punch. Knowing how much Van Gundy values process over results, I'm guessing this won't go unmentioned in film study.

That said, this shouldn't take away from Detroit's amazing win – they showed a lot of heart with their 28-point swing, being down 18 in the first half to being up 10 in the third quarter. And after countless fourth-quarter collapses in recent seasons, they fact they went toe to toe with a veteran team in the fourth and emerged victorious is simply incredible.

And Brandon Jennings! He shook off a lousy shooting night, including a pair of missed layups in the final three minutes, to put this game on ice with a decisive fast break. He's finally comfortable on the court, unlike a few weeks ago when he passed up a wide open layup at home only to brick a short jumper. He's come a long way in a short time, and he deserves as much credit as anyone for Detroit's unlikely six-game winning streak.

So even if the execution of the final play wasn't perfect, the progress this team has made compared to just two weeks ago truly is. When the Pistons won five in a row by wide margins, critics said the competition was soft, and the scorching 3-point shooting wasn't sustainable. But win No. 6 came against the defending champs, on the road, and on a night only three of 19 3-point shots fell.

This team is learning how to win. They already dug the basement, and if look closely, you'll see they're not just building a wall but a fucking foundation.