Pistons come up short again, fall to Thunder 105-104

BOX SCORE

Auburn Hills — One team is hitting almost 46 percent of its shots from the field and nearly 52 percent from the three-point line. The other is making 40 percent of shots from the field and just 18 percent from three-point range. Both teams have turned the ball over a total of 24 times in two games.

Guess which team is 0-2 and which is 2-0?

If you said the Pistons were the former and the Oklahoma City Thunder were the latter, you’re wrong.

It shows that statistics don’t always mean everything when it comes to wins and losses.

It’s only been two games, but the Pistons have done just enough to lose both by a total of four points.

Wednesday in New Jersey, they lost 101-98 after leading by seven points with 1:40 left in the game.

Friday in the home opener, they got the play they wanted and needed and took the lead, 104-103, when Charlie Villanueva made a three-pointer with 7.5 seconds to go. It was the Pistons’ first lead since 9:06 of the first quarter when they led 6-4.

But 7.5 seconds was plenty of time for the Thunder to regain the lead, which they did when Jeff Green drove around Jason Maxiell and made the game-winning layup. The play was supposed to go to Thunder star Kevin Durant, who finished with 30 points and eight rebounds.

“Tayshaun Prince really did too good of a job taking the ball away from Durant and 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,” Pistons coach John Kuester said.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks admitted that wasn’t the play he drew up.

“They did a good job defending that,” Brooks said. “It was a broken play and Jeff played with his instincts and he drove hard, got the contact and made the bucket. It was a heck of a play.”

Ben Gordon, who led the Pistons with 32 points off the bench, had only 2.5 seconds left to make a play, but no timeouts left.

“The best thing I could have done was shoot it probably from three-quarter court,” Gordon said. “By then, I didn’t get a good glance at the clock and they had two guys running at me. Couldn’t really do much with the ball at that time. Just a tough loss.”

The Pistons also got a solid performance from Rodney Stuckey, who had 24 points and nine assists.

“I thought both of those guys were outstanding. I thought Rodney Stuckey controlled the basketball, having nine assists,” Kuester said. “Ben Gordon had a huge game and was playing with the type of confidence that I know he’s capable of.”

It wasn’t really the final two plays that did in the Pistons. They can look to their first-half turnovers — 13, seven more than they had the entire game Wednesday, and letting the Thunder get rebounds, 18 on the offensive glass, and shoot free throws. The Thunder finished with 37 of 44 made free throws, including their first 24 in a row. The Pistons made 16 of 20 from the free-throw line.

“I just thought tonight turnovers really hurt us, their second-chance points, offensive rebounds, they really killed us on the boards,” Stuckey said. “If we can limit those two things, we’ll be all right.”

Ben Wallace, who had eight rebounds, three blocks and two points, agreed that overall, the glass remains half-full for the Pistons.

“It’s a long season,” he said. “We keep continuing to play the way we’re playing, our fortunes will change. Some of those games will go our way if we continue to play like we played tonight.”

Like Wallace, Kuester was looking at the big picture, not the two-game losing start to the season.

“Good things are going to happen to this team,” Kuester said. “You’ve just got to continue to work and understand that somehow, some way, we’ll make this work. You’re never in this business to lose and there’s no consolation. Bottom line is you’ve got to win and that I understand.”

Oct. 30, 2010