With three minutes left, Knight flew over Detroit’s bench trying to save the ball between his legs. On the other side, he crashed into a cooler with full cups on top.
“Guy took a shower during the game – that doesn’t happen a lot ,” Lawrence Frank said. “But I thought that pumped our guys up. He goes over the top. There was a great spark that I think triggered, just to see the fight he showed.”
Knight’s hustle, evident since the start of the second half, set the tone for a 13-point comeback that became complete on Stuckey’s 3-pointer with 55 seconds left and changed the game’s outcome with Stuckey’s stepback jumper with 0.2 seconds left.
If the hooting and hollering heard in the Pistons’ locker room after their 79-77 win over the Wizards on Monday was any indication, Detroit needed this after losing five straight. Increasing lottery odds is always helpful, but so is rewarding hustle. The Pistons learned a lesson tonight about how to win that will, hopefully, stick with them.
Knight, although he couldn’t remember a save attempt quite like this one, didn’t need a lesson how to do it.
“You just don’t want to clip nothing to make you fall on your face,” Knight said.
That wasn’t the only unrefined part of the contest for Knight, who shot 3-of-13. But before the game, Ben Wallace talked about playing hard even when the individual results aren’t there. Knight (seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and one turnover) definitely held up his end of the bargain.
So did Stuckey, who picked up three first-half charges, missed six of his first eight shots and didn’t get to the free-throw line early. But he kept battling through his toe injury, and before the night ended, his game caught up to his effort.
In the end, it’s neither lottery odds nor learning how to play in tight games that was most important. As Stuckey pointed out, more than inspiring his teammates, Knight’s dive had another positive outcome.
“Luckily, he’s OK,” Stuckey said. “He’s not hurt. A lot of water fell on him, but he’ll be good, though.”
That was … nearly lockout-ruined
The Wizards were in the third game of a back-to-back-to-back and fifth game in six days. The Pistons were playing their third in four days and eighth straight in a different city. It showed – until a spirited final few minutes.
“It was an ugly, grimy, grindy – I mean, the first half, the NBA called and they were about to throw us both out of the building,” Frank said.
Ben Gordon injured
Daye missed all three of his shots, and Bynum went just 2-for-7. Neither had an assist. If Gordon is an out an extended period of time, it will be interesting to see how Frank spreads backup minutes going forward.
Most Valuable Player
Jordan Crawford (21 points on 9-of-16 shooting) shot well on a night nobody else did, and he opportunistically collected five assists and three steals.
Stuckey’s game winner