AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — An overtime victory over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats doesn’t mean much in terms of this season for the Detroit Pistons, but it might be a stepping stone for the future.
The Pistons were a tired, undermanned team coming into Saturday night’s game. They played Friday night in Chicago (83-71 loss), were finally returning home after spending one night at home since heading out on the road March 12 and they were missing Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey because of injuries.
Trailing 93-85 with two minutes to go in regulation, it would have been completely understandable if the Pistons had just decided to mail it in and give the Bobcats their eighth victory of the season.
But Brandon Knight hit two threes, and Greg Monroe stole the ball and completed a traditional three-point play to cut the lead to one. The Bobcats hit two free throws to extend their lead to three with 26.2 seconds to go.
On the next play Tayshaun Prince passed to Jonas Jerebko, who then passed to Will Bynum, who had not attempted a three all night. But Bynum, who has not been on the floor late in games very much and had only played in 21 games this season, delivered the game-tying shot.
“It was trusting, believing, sharing the basketball,” said Bynum, who finished with 17 points, 12 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Those are the kind of things the Pistons used to say back when they were reaching the Eastern Conference Finals every year and winning the NBA title in 2004.
The 19-33 Pistons are not headed for either this season, but to get there in the future, they have to be working on that kind of chemistry now.
“Obviously the teams that I was on, we trusted each other, everybody was going to make the right play, we felt that, we knew the chemistry was there,” said Tayshaun Prince, who led all scorers with 24. “The thing is, we’re trying to build that chemistry with these guys.”
In fact, coach Lawrence Frank was very pleased with everyone after the game.
“To me, I don’t care who gets the shot, I just want it to be a good shot,” Frank said. “To me, it’s how we got those buckets. You think about the trust with Will on the dribble handoff to Tay and then Tay making the next play to Brandon. Then the trust from Tay to Jonas, Jonas to Will, I just like how we found those shots, that they weren’t forced shots, they were rhythm shots in pressure moments.”
Bynum had only made three total three-point shots coming into the game.
“Will’s not known as a big-time three-point shooter but he always works on his shot and what a perfect time to come through with it,” Prince said.
Frank said Bynum is always working in practice, even when he knows he might not be playing.
“They call him Bynumite, right?” Frank said. “Will prepares every day. Will’s an extremely hard worker. Even though he was out of the rotation, he still was very diligent, put the time in. He’s in shape. You can’t play those minutes and not be in condition. It’s a credit to Will that he stayed ready and when his number was called, he delivered.”
There are still 14 games to go, and Frank has said there’s no “closer” on the team, so everyone can and should be ready.
“At the end of the day, I have confidence in everyone on the court,” Frank said.
It seems the Pistons are starting to feel that way, too.
“We’re trusting each other,” Jerebko said. “I think that shows out on the court. Somebody has an open shot but maybe somebody is more open.