Thunder edge Pistons 105-104
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
By LARRY LAGE
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder showed Friday night they have other options when Kevin Durant is covered during a tight game.
Jeff Green made a layup with 2.5 seconds left, lifting Oklahoma City to a 105-104 win over the Detroit Pistons.
“Everybody in the gym thought KD was going
to get the ball,” Detroit’s Ben Gordon said. “We did a helluva job not
letting him catch it.”
The Pistons did an awful job of defending Green, who made the last of many easy shots against them.
“The play was for Kevin, but I saw he
wasn’t open,” Green said. “I tried to get into the lane and either get
a basket or get a foul.”
Detroit was out of timeouts at the end of
the game and failed to attempt a shot, allowing the Thunder to spoil
its home opener for the second straight season.
Oklahoma City, expected to be a Western
Conference power this season, was in control for much of the game only
to open the door for a Detroit comeback in the final seconds.
The Thunder made their first 24 free
throws and 37 of 44 overall, but Durant missed one with 14 seconds left
and Serge Ibaka split a pair with 18 seconds to go.
“I was kicking myself,” said Durant, who
had 30 points for the second straight game after leading the league in
scoring last season. “But I knew I had to knock the second one down. I
owe Jeff something now because he picked me up there. Winning a game
like that on a broken play is huge — Jeff really came through.”
Charlie Villanueva made a go-ahead
3-pointer with 7.5 seconds left, but Detroit’s decision to deny Durant
the ball at all costs backfired.
“Tayshaun Prince really did too good of
a job taking the ball away from Durant,” Pistons coach John Kuester
said. “Jeff Green didn’t know what to do but drive the ball and
unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.”
Detroit dropped to 0-2 for the first
time since losing the first four games of the 1999-2000 season. The
Pistons blew a seven-point lead with 1:40 left at New Jersey and lost
101-98 in Wednesday night’s opener.
“We have to get better closing out
games,” Ben Wallace said. “We did everything to give ourselves a chance
to win, and we let it slip away.
“It’s a long season. If we keep continue
to play the way we’re playing, our fortunes will turn and things will
start to go our way.”
Gordon had 32 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 24 for the Pistons.
Oklahoma City took advantage of its
ability to draw contact and make free throws for the second straight
game. The Thunder were 38 of 47 at the line in the season-opening win
over the Chicago Bulls.
Durant led the way for the up-and-coming Thunder and had plenty of help.
Green scored 21, and Russell Westbrook
had 17 points and 11 assists. Reserve Ibaka finished with 16 points and
10 rebounds, and Nenad Krstic had 14 points.
Gordon, who had his second-highest
scoring game as a Piston, made 11 of 16 shots — including a pair of
3-pointers — and eight of nine free throws.
His teammates didn’t get to the line much, combining to attempt just 11 free throws, making eight of them.
Detroit’s Richard Hamilton had 14 points. Tayshaun Prince and Villanueva each had 12.
“I feel bad for Detroit because they’ve
played well twice and not come away with anything either time,” Thunder
coach Scott Brooks said. “That just shows you how hard it is to get a
win in this league.”
Pistons owner Karen Davidson said she had no comment on the pending
sale of the team and won’t have anything to say publicly when the deal
is done. “I’m going to hand over the keys and walk away” Davidson said
before the game. NBA Commissioner David Stern said last week he was
optimistic the sale would be completed in November. Detroit Tigers and
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has been discussing terms of the deal for a
few weeks during an exclusive negotiating period. … The Thunder had
five players with at least two steals… Pistons G Will Bynum didn’t
play because of a hamstring injury.
Updated October 29, 2010