I like that the Bobcats worry about my recaps being long enough so that they decide to take games to overtime. This is either the second or third game I've covered this season where they've needed the extra five minutes to close out the opponent. But it's not like I have anywhere else to be, so it's not a huge deal. Still, this was a Pistons team that had won six of their last seven, had a distinct advantage in the athleticism in the frontcourt, and, despite Detroit not actually being very good, Bobcats people were still worried.
Their fears looked justified when the Pistons raced out to an 8-0 lead just two and a half minutes into the game, and they didn't miss until their seventh shot when Kyle Singler bricked a three point attempt. However, things finally turned around once they realized that the mid-range jumper/turnover offense wasn't getting them anywhere, and they began to rally behind the strong play of The Cornerstones -- Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist -- but still trailed by nine at the end of the frame.
If you wanted to relate the second quarter to a period in American history, it would probably be the Wild West, where love was against the law and so was defense. Despite shooting 75% at one point in the quarter, the Pistons committed too many turnovers, including three consecutive offensive fouls, that prevented them from pulling away from the Bobcats. While the Pistons couldn't miss, the Bobcats took advantage of Detroit's miscues and beat them on the break to the tune of 38 points scored in the second quarter.
Yes, despite their slow start, the Bobcats made some adjustments to be down just 60-59 at intermission. After a twelve point first quarter, Detroit's Tayshaun Prince was held to just two points, and led the team in scoring after two. The Bobcats were led by Kemba's twelve point, five assist performance, and Ben Gordon's seven points. As a team, they finished with a 17-5 edge in fastbreak points, and committed just four turnovers to Detroit's nine to off set their opponent's stellar shooting. It wasn't just the fact that they were getting turnovers and not making them, but that they were scoring off of them with 16 first half points off of turnovers.
We've seen it before where this team has come out slow out of the gate with some halves and quarters, but not tonight; right out of the gate we saw a Kemba steal that led to a Jeffery Taylor dunk. The continued energy was impressive given the surge they put forth during the second quarter, but eventually that would taper off. We saw how Detroit's frontcourt athleticism can affect games, but also how our very own Gerald Henderson can affect a game defensively. In fact, don't let Hendo's 2-5 shooting and six point's throw you off; he left his mark on the defensive end, which became huge down the stretch.
The Bobcats entered the fourth quarter down by three, and managed to hold Detroit to no field goals after Greg Monroe's make after the 11:22 mark until 9:05, when the Bobcats finally retook the lead. For whatever the reason , it seemed that both teams were beginning to fall off, and so was the watchability of the game. This was highlighted by the following two minute stretch that took us past the halfway mark of the quarter: Sessions missed jumper; Tyrus Thomas foul; Andre Drummond two missed free throws; Bobcats shot clock violation; Tayshaun missed jumper; and Drummond blocking Tyrus. Yeah, it wasn't pretty, but the Bobcats trailed by just three points.
Fast forward to 3:44 when Ben Gordon made a three pointer to tie it up, and that's when things began to pick up a little bit again. Gordon's ability to get to the line about a minute later and make his shots evened things up again at 94 after a Greg Monroe bucket had previously given them a lead. Following another Prince basket, Kemba drove to the hoop with :28 seconds remaining, but was swatted at the rim by Drummond. Determined, the Bobcats were able to retain possession, and took the ball up top. With the clock now winding down towards single digits, and being closely defended by Brandon Knight, Kemba finally shook him and tied the game up at 96 with just :07 seconds remaining.
Both teams would go on to trade missed threes and we were headed to overtime.
Since we had seen such a decline in offense for both teams since they combined for 68 points in the second quarter alone compared to the combined 31 they scored in the fourth, it seemed we could've been headed towards an ugly overtime. Surprisingly, Tyrus turned around his performance and was practically a different player in overtime on both ends. In fact, we saw crisp rotations, and swift closeouts on jumpshooters from all players on the court, and the Bobcats would wind up putting Detroit away for good on their own home court.
Tonight, we saw just why the Bobcats are scrappy. Whether it was the 25 second chance points, 26 points off 22 forced turnovers, or 25 points on the break-- the Bobcats showed just how pesky they can be tonight. They were able to overcome being on the road, and able to keep both the points in the paint and rebounding categories close despite them being considered mismatched against the Pistons' frontcourt. It may not have always been pretty, and you weren't always sure they were going to be capable of finally taking the lead, but they did and that's good enough for me.
Next up, the Jazz on Wednesday.
For the Pistons side: Detroit Bad Boys