The Detroit Pistons won in thrilling fashion Tuesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Brandon Jennings was an unlikely hero, especially considering he had been 4-for-17 on the night to that point. However, that really would not have mattered if it was not for 15 minutes of amazing offense and outstanding defense. Maybe the best 15 minutes of Pistons basketball this season?
It had been a common theme over the win streak. The Pistons would "lose" the first quarter, sometimes by a lot (i.e. Cleveland). Then they would utterly dominate the last three quarters for a blowout win. One of my friends (who is a Spurs fan) on Facebook messaged me sometime after the first quarter:
I will admit...I was in doubt. I mean this is the San Antonio Spurs we are talking about. However, I am immensely happy that they proved me wrong. But the manner in which they did it is still amazing.
With 3:55 left in the second quarter, the Pistons were losing by 18 points, 54-36. I felt better by the half when they had trimmed that to nine. Much better to go into the locker room with a single digit deficit than that 18-point one, or more.
After the third quarter, I felt a lot better as the Pistons played very well to the tune of a 33-19 advantage in the quarter and at one point had a 10-point lead. That 10-point lead was with 56 seconds left in the quarter. Now, at the time I only saw the quarters' box score. Even made the comment after the third ended: "62-40 in those two middle quarters. I’ll be happy with holding them even in the fourth."
But at the time I did not fully grasp the thralling the Pistons had given the Spurs to get that lead.
From 3:55 left in the second to 56 seconds left in the third is almost exactly 15 minutes. In that time, the Pistons had swung the score by 28 points - outscoring them 46-18. Had it not been for Marco Belinelli scoring five points in that last minute and changing the momentum of the game, the Pistons could have very likely blown out the Spurs.
Jennings had the worst part of that 15-minute stretch. He was 3-for-10 from the field (1-for-4 from distance). He was forcing. He took six more shots than the next Piston, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (who played every second of that 15 minutes), in that stretch. Now, take that into consideration as I go over these numbers.
In that 15 minute span, the Pistons shot 56.7-percent from the floor going 17-for-30. If you were to take out Jennings shots, they were 14-20, or 70-percent. The Pistons were 2-for-8 from deep, both in the second quarter. They shot 10-for-13 from the line including 3-for-3 from Andre Drummond. They had 21 rebounds (Greg Monroe, Drummond and Anthony Tolliver with at least five each) with eight of them being on the offensive glass (four of which were by Drummond). They also had six steals against three turnovers in that time and two blocks.
Obviously, scoring is great, but that does not matter if you cannot stop the ball. The Pistons did just that! Tim Duncan had the best offense in that span for the Spurs, going 3-for-5 for six points. No other Spur shot more than three times with only Belinelli making two - the others made one or none. The Spurs shot 7-for-25 in that time (1-for-6 from distance) and only got to the line four times. They only had 10 rebounds, five assists (for comparisons sake, they had 10 in the first quarter alone) and seven turnovers. Only Duncan and Danny Green played more than nine minutes in that span.
Looking at the advanced stats side of things is absolutely gorgeous. The Pistons had an offensive rating of 149.7 and a defensive rating of 60.5, for a Net rating of 89.3. D.J. Augustin led the way with an offensive rating of 170.1 followed by Monroe at 163.6. Augustin also led the way with a defensive rating of 14.5, followed by Jodie Meeks at 27.9. It should be mentioned that Augustin only played 3:01 (20-percent), Meeks played 5:26 (36-percent), whereas Monroe played 12:39 (84-percent) of the 15-minute span. Their Offensive Rebounding Percentage was 57.1-percent. As far as advanced stat shooting, the Pistons had an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 60-percent and a True Shooting Percentage of 64.4-percent.
Unfortunately, I am not aware of a way to look at all 15 minute segments of the Pistons' season. However, I feel confident in saying that those 15 minutes may have been the most dominating basketball the Pistons have played this season. It is one thing if you outscore a team 46-18 in the matter of 15 minutes and you were already leading. It is something else to do that when you were down by 18 points. Even with Jennings having an off night (especially during those 15 minutes), the Pistons played amazing TEAM ball.
Update: Stan Van Gundy pointed out the same thing after the game. From the Detroit News:
"We're getting better and tonight proved it," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We showed really good resolve to stay within the game. You stay with it, sometimes you get a break. Let's face it. We got a very good break at the end. We got lucky.
"But you have to be down one to have that break happen. If you're down 17 and Cory Joseph fumbles the ball (expletive), what do you do? You lose by 15; it doesn't matter. Our resolve, down to the last few seconds, was huge."
Oh, yeah, here is how my conversation ended with my friend.