Iverson's basket lifts Pistons over ThunderDec 27, 2008 - 5:53 AM By Chuck Klonke PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson took matters into his own hands when it looked like the Detroit Pistons might lose to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder.
Iverson hit a short running jump shot with two-tenths of a second left on the clock Friday to lift the Pistons to a 90-88 victory against the Thunder, who slipped to an NBA-worst 3-27 with their third straight defeat and 12th in the last 13 games.
"It was set up for me to run the clock down and just get the last shot," Iverson said. "I really didn't have a lot of time to try to create something for somebody else, especially with those guys playing everybody so tight.
"I guess they were concentrating on the guys we had on the wings, so I was able to get as close as I could to the basket and make a shot."
Detroit coach Michael Curry wasn't surprised when Iverson's shot dropped through the basket.
"He did what he's done his whole career - make big shots and win the game," Curry said.
Oklahoma City had a chance to tie the game when Jeff Green just missed tipping in the inbounds pass from Desmond Mason as time expired.
"It was a good look," Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks said. "Jeff is one of our better leapers. He can catch balls at the basket and it just slipped out of his hands. Unfortunately, it would have been a great overtime."
Earlier, Iverson's basket late in the third quarter triggered a 20-7 run that gave Detroit its biggest lead of the game, 84-70, with just under six minutes to go.
Iverson finished with 22 points after failing to hit a basket for only the second time in his 13 NBA seasons in Tuesday's victory against Chicago. Iverson sat out the last 19 minutes of that game with a sore left groin.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 26 points.
The Pistons have won eight straight against the Seattle-Oklahoma City franchise, which has not beaten Detroit since March 4, 2005.
The first half was tight all the way with neither team able to open up more than a five-point lead.
There were eight lead changes and six ties before Detroit got a 3-point basket from Rasheed Wallace to go up, 39-36, with 2:49 left in the second quarter. The Pistons led for the rest of the half and held a 46-44 advantage at the break.
"These games are so tough," Iverson said. "You've got a team that's only won three games and they're hungry. Every game is a real big game for them because they want to get off the schnide.
"We beat two of the teams in the league with the best record (Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers) and lost to two of the teams with the worst record (Minnesota and Washington), so we just wanted to get out of here with a win."
Detroit's Rodney Stuckey, who scored 40 points in Tuesday's victory against Chicago, scored just four points in the first half and missed six of his eight shots.
The game remained close throughout the third quarter with seven more lead changes. Iverson hit a jump shot with just over 29 seconds remaining in the period to give Detroit a 66-63 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Iverson scored 14 of the 16 points in the spurt that put the Pistons ahead 84-70 with 5:41 to go.
While it might not have shown up on the stat sheet, Curry said that the contribution from little-used forward Amir Johnson was a factor in the Detroit victory.
"As great as Iverson was, I thought the player of the game was Amir Johnson," Curry said. "He gave us a huge presence on defense. He contested shots and when he was in the game we were able to get stops.
"That's how we got up big and got the possessions to give (Iverson) and Tay (Tayshaun Prince) a chance to score. I thought Amir was super on (Chris) Wilcox, who kicked our tail in the first half."
Johnson began the season as Detroit's starter at small forward but, since the Pistons have gone to the smaller lineup with the acquisition of Iverson, Johnson's time has been dwindling. He has played in only two of the last eight contests.
"You have to be ready for those situations," Johnson said. "That's why you stay after practice and get those shots up in the gym. When a coach sees that, he's going to know that you're ready. You have to do the little stuff so the coach will have faith in you."
The surge by the Pistons did not take the life out of the Thunder, who responded with a 13-0 run to cut Detroit's lead to 84-83 on a basket by Durant with 1:39 to play.
A layup by Stuckey put the Pistons ahead 86-83 with 1:21 to go, but Russell Westbrook split a pair of free throws and, after a miss by Stuckey, Durant drove for a layup to tie the game at 86-86 with 46.5 seconds remaining.
Detroit regained the lead with 27 seconds to go when Stuckey fed Antonio McDyess for a layup, but Joe Smith's jumper from the top of the key with 18 ticks left pulled Oklahoma City back into a tie.
"It was a tough one tonight," Wilcox said. "We came back, got the game tied up and took the lead by two. But they're a great team, they know how to finish games. We're a young team that's still struggling to finish games."
OKLAHOMA CITY 88
DETROIT 90 FINAL
Dec 26 10:26 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 63
DETROIT 66 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 26 9:47 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 44
DETROIT 46 HALFTIME
Dec 26 9:04 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 17
DETROIT 19 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 26 8:35 PM
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