The New Orleans Pelicans came in to the game losers of eight in a row and sat 11 games under .500, while the Detroit Pistons were barely hanging around relevancy at five games below .500, winners of three of their last four. Something had to give.
Detroit would not be denied in this one, relying on Derrick Rose’s 17 fourth-quarter points and last-second heroics.
With both teams trading baskets in the closing minutes, Rose hit the game-winning fall away jump shot in the lane with the game tied at 103. It was a clear out, and Rose did what he does best (and against a top defender in Jrue Holiday to boot):
The Pelicans ended up having .3 seconds from out of bounds at halfcourt to throw something up toward the rim to get a tip-in, but their attempt was thwarted by Andre Drummond’s knock away.
The first half was not a pretty one, especially for Detroit.
Eight first-quarter turnovers (and 13 for the half) stalled whatever rhythm some of the Detroit shooters had (and could have had).
Luke Kennard and Drummond played a combined 16 minutes first-half minutes due to three fouls apiece. No Pistons’ starter had more than one basket in the opening half. Detroit’s 32 first-half bench points kept them within striking distance despite 2-of-8 shooting from Rose and 1-of-5 shooting from Markieff Morris. Langston Galloway drilled three triples and Svi Mykhailiuk dropped two. Christian Wood provided energy and an interior presence.
The halftime score saw the Pelicans up on the Pistons, 53-47.
The Pelicans inability to capitalize on Detroit’s turnovers was the other story of why it was only a six-point game at half. The Pelicans scored just six points off of the first 10 Pistons’ turnovers.
Brandon Ingram paced the Pelicans with 17 in the first half on an aggressive display of drives and jump shots.
Detroit scored the first eight points of the third quarter, and mostly kept their foot on the pedal throughout the frame. Kennard was aggressive in the quarter, Drummond had his moments on both ends of the court, and Tony Snell splashed a couple of treys. Detroit took the quarter 34-21 and were up 81-74 to begin the fourth.
Derrick Rose was en fuego to begin the fourth, helping Detroit expand their lead to 12. The Pelicans responded, led by Lonzo Ball’s playmaking and Josh Hart hot shooting from the corner. Jrue Holiday came alive in the second half of the quarter as well, and the fourth quarter was tight from there on out.
Rose scored 17 of Detroit’s 24 fourth quarter points. That really was the difference. Rose also did a great job of limiting turnovers, only coughing it up twice for the game. Louisiana native Langston Galloway (on his birthday!) scored 16 on just 10 shots.
Blake Griffin struggled mightily, only scoring one field goal and grabbing just four rebounds in 34 minutes.
This was a big-time win for Detroit, getting them to 10 wins. Their 10-14 record won’t turn any heads, but with all of their injuries early in the season, they are keeping afloat and might just be rounding into form with a mostly healthy roster.
Detroit will play in Mexico City on Thursday against a pretty decent Dallas Mavericks team.