AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Shooting guard Eric Gordon handed the ball over too many times on Friday night. With the game on the line, Gordon had the ball in his hands one more time and he delivered the winning basket.
Gordon’s layup with 1.9 seconds remaining gave the New Orleans Pelicans a 103-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace.
It was literally a shot at redemption for Gordon, who committed seven of his team’s 21 turnovers.
“Things weren’t going my way tonight,” said Gordon, who finished with 15 points. “I was trying to force it early, trying to get things going by attacking and see how the game was going to be. It was good that the team had my back and I was able to score down the stretch.”
New Orleans rallied from a 16-point deficit late in the third quarter but needed one more score to complete the comeback. Pistons forward Josh Smith’s putback with 19 seconds remaining tied it at 101.
After a timeout, Gordon found himself matched up against rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He drove into the lane and had enough space to toss in a scoop shot.
“He wasn’t having his best night at all, but he’s Eric and we trust him,” said Pelicans reserve guard Austin Rivers, who also had 15 points. “That’s what he gets paid to do and he does it well. When the game is on the line and Eric has the ball, we feel like we have a great chance of winning.”
Guard Anthony Morrow scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the Pelicans (17-25) and forward Anthony Davis chipped in 14.
Pistons coach Mo Cheeks tried to call timeout after Gordon’s shot, but it wasn’t granted. Point guard Brandon Jennings’ desperation heave bounced off the backboard.
“They got back into it by some defensive lapses and some 3-point shots by Morrow,” Cheeks said. “That’s how they got back in it. Our perimeter defense for the most part was like that, where they kept getting a little crack and getting inside the lane.”
Jennings scored 22 of his game-high 28 points during the second half to carry the Pistons (17-26), who have lost eight of their last nine home games. Center Andre Drummond posted the first 20-20 game of his career with 21 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.
That was little consolation to Drummond, whose team has lost 10 of its last 13.
“We make poor decisions down the stretch of the game sometimes,” he said. “We’ve got to get better at that, nip it in the bud and finish games out.”
The Pelicans led by 10 after scoring on their first two second-half possessions. It didn’t last long. The Pistons caught fire and scored the next 18 points.
Caldwell-Pope moved Detroit in front with a 3-pointer. Jennings scored on a layup and a 3-pointer, sandwiching Smith’s layup, to finish an outburst that gave the Pistons a 66-58 lead.
Detroit’s lead mushroomed to 16 at 78-62 before New Orleans finished the quarter with a 9-2 run to make it 80-71.
Morrow’s 3-pointer with five minutes left pulled the Pelicans within five at 94-89. He made another one with 2:07 left to cut the Pistons’ advantage to one and Davis’ tip-in with 1:19 remaining gave New Orleans a 99-98 lead.
“We just kept fighting,” Rivers said. “People call us young, but we fight and when you do, you give yourself a chance.”
NOTES: Pelicans SF/SG Tyreke Evans missed the game with an illness. … New Orleans won the last three meetings. … The Pistons were 2-13 against the Western Conference, including a 1-8 record at home. … Pelicans PF Anthony Davis and Pistons C Andre Drummond, both second-year players who entered the draft after one college season, were among the 28 players selected by USA Basketball for the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team pool. “The league is younger, so you’re going to see more of that,” Williams said. “They’re not playing against 34- or 35-year-old grizzled veteran big men like I had to play against. It’s not Patrick Ewing and (Hakeem) Olajuwon that they’re playing against.” … Pistons coach Mo Cheeks has used the same lineup 35 times despite his team’s struggles. The most logical change would be to insert SG and sixth man Rodney Stuckey ahead of rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. “He’s played well off the bench and I like the things he does when he comes off the bench,” Cheeks said. “It would put someone else in a different role. If in fact I do it, I’ll figure out what’s best for the group and for Stuckey, but I’m not there yet.”
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