Blake Griffin got an offensive rebound, threw the ball off Ersan Ilyasova, and then hit a jumper on the ensuing possession to put the Clippers up 97-94 with 17 seconds to go, and the Pistons couldn't hit from three-point range to tie the game.
Detroit falls to 5-4 on the season, while the Clips improve to 6-4.
Griffin struggled a bit early with so much of the Clippers' offensive burden placed on him in Paul's absence, as he was minus-15 at the half. But he rebounded in a big way by posting a near-triple-double with 34 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
After three quarters of runs, the fourth quarter was a closely-contested battle that went down to the final possessions.
Detroit rode a hot-shooting first quarter from its starters and a suffocating defensive performance early in the second by the bench-plus-Marcus Morris unit to a nine-point lead at halftime.
They went five-of-six from three and 10-of-12 overall in the first seven minutes, and opened the second quarter scoring 14 unanswered points.
But it was a different story in the second half.
The Clippers rode the hot shooting of Jamal Crawford to a 30-20 third quarter, and then locked down the Pistons in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Crawford was a huge problem for the Pistons all night, making circus shot after circus shot to keep the Clippers in the game early, and eventually helping bring them all the way back to the lead, as well as icing the game late with his free-throw shooting.
He finished with 37 points and eight assists, both at least double his previous season high.
Andre Drummond was his usual dominant self in the paint, creating all kinds of havoc rolling to the rim and on the offensive glass. He picked up his ninth double-double in a row, scoring 18 points with 19 rebounds.
Andre Drummond is the first Piston with 9 dbl-dbls in first 9 games since Dave DeBusschere in 1966-67— Austin Drake (@austin_drake) November 14, 2015
Drummond was subject to Doc Rivers' intentional fouling, and he finished just 6-of-14 from the free throw line. But it hardly mattered, as the Pistons struggled to score late in the game even when Drummond wasn't shooting free throws.
Reggie Jackson still managed an efficient offensive day against the depleted Clippers backcourt with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. Ersan Ilyasova also dropped 20 points.
The Pistons have a chance to rebound from this loss against the Los Angeles Lakers in the same building Sunday night at 9:30 Eastern.
RUNNING THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
- Griffin is forced to be the Clippers' primary ball handler with Paul out. Gives teams trouble cause he draws help from the second big and throws oops to Jordan.
- Austin Rivers is allergic to passing.
- Jamal Crawford is slightly less allergic to passing.
- Pistons are shooting the lights out. Awesome, but probably unsustainable.
- The threat of Drummond's rolls is really what this entire top unit is based off. It's crazy how much he bends the defense.
- Pistons' bench comes on up 26-19 with about 2:30 to go in the quarter, coughs up the lead in 90 seconds.
- Every team knows Steve Blake isn't looking to shoot.
- Stanley looking pretty good despite his shot not falling. Has surprisingly advanced vision as a ball-handler.
- Pistons forcing Clips to throw a lot of tough passes. Not doubling the post, sagging off guys that aren't offensive threats. And there are a lot of them.
- As soon as I type that his shot isn't falling, Johnson cans a three.
- Griffin/Prigioni/Smith/Johnson/Rivers lineup really struggling to score for Clippers. Only guy spotting up and trying to provide spacing is Smith...and we know how that goes.
- Pistons opened up the 2nd on a 14-0 run.
- Pretty surreal to see this oft-maligned bench unit running the Clippers off their home court.
- Nice little iso bucket by Rivers, but he's just not taking advantage of Steve Blake's presence the way Chris Paul theoretically would.
- I was so worried about Stanley's low release coming out of Arizona, but he gets it off so quickly it hardly matters.
- You know the Pistons' offensive rebounding is something special when it's problematic for the Clippers even when Jordan is out there.
- Drummond already with a double-double. Four offensive boards.
- Andre gets nailed in the face by a loose ball- I think Johnson kicked it? Happens to the best of us.
- Pistons having a lot of trouble scoring all of a sudden near the end of the half. Clips within nine.
- Morris just 1-of-8 from the field, but +15 on the day so far.
- Griffin's post defense on Drummond is pretty lacking. Giving up all kinds of positioning even though Andre isn't converting as many as he should.
- Griffin taking over in the second half is the only way I see the Pistons losing at this point. They just don't really have anyone who can guard him.
- Shockingly, Clippers aren't as fun to watch without their starting backcourt. Passing isn't crisp. Look like they're stuck in molasses.
- Jackson should just drive every time. No way Crawford/Rivers can consistently stay in front of him.
- Pistons out-rebounding the Clippers 30 to 18.
- Jordan 6-of-6 from the field...but you just can't go to him for buckets.
- Yikes what a bad foul by Griffin on Ilyasova's three. Just as it looked like they were going to come back...
- Even with all the missing parts in Clippers' backcourt, Lance Stephenson still MIA. Two minutes tonight and the third quarter's almost over.
- .......and Andre airballs a free throw. Don't think the Pistons should be scared of Hack-A-Dre, but it's working right now.
- Not the biggest Jamal Crawford fan cause I think he shoots you out of more games than shoots you into. But he's almost single-handedly kept the Clippers in this one. 27 points on 18 shots.
- Baynes can't finish, gives up the putback, and misses the jumper in the span of about 15 seconds.
- Crawford with yet another circus shot to put the Clippers up by one at the end of the quarter. Wow. 17-5 run to end the quarter. I don't understand taking Drummond out - even him shooting 35% on free throws is better than the horrendous offense we've trotted out there this quarter.
- Tolliver doesn't have a lot of value to the Pistons on a night where he can't even hit wide-open corner threes.
- Andre smiling a little as his gorgeous jump hook he celebrated is waved off as a travel.
- His attempt to re-create the hook without the travel is....unsuccessful.
- We're five minutes into this quarter and nobody has made a field goal. Pistons 0-for-7, Clippers 0-for-9.
- It's a little problematic that the Pistons can't score right now. This is not the most gifted defensive unit they're going against. Shot selection looks like the main problem, but they can't hit even the open looks they're getting.
- Pistons re-take the lead on a pass that squirts through Ilyasova's hands and goes right to Baynes.
- This one's going to go down to the wire...
- Nothing you can really do about that Rivers three. Defended it well, that's a shot you gotta let him take.
- KCP got switched onto Griffin and couldn't keep him out of the paint. Pistons need a bucket badly here.
- Andre with two huge free throws.
- What a play by Griffin to fight for the offensive board and throw it off Ilyasova to keep possession.
- Jordan fouls out to put Jackson on the line with 8.2 to go.
- Fitting that Crawford gets to ice the game here. I think it's a fluky game, but an undoubtedly impressive performance by him, and you can't do anything but tip your hat.