The Detroit Pistons are a much-improved team after Joe Dumars rebuilt the roster once again over the summer. That doesn't mean they are ready to knock off teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder. Detroit played the Thunder tough into the third quarter Friday night, but Oklahoma City's superior depth took over down the stretch, especially once Andre Drummond and Josh Smith got into foul trouble. Rookie Steven Adams finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow post reserve Nick Collison had nine points and four rebounds in a 119-110 victory.
Game-winners follow some standard templates: the one-on-one jumper, the pick-and-roll, the drive to the rim that ends in either a lay-in or a kickout to a shooter for an open jumper. There are varying degrees of difficulty and excitement within and across those categories, of course, but the plays usually fall within that range.
Wednesday night, then, represented something of an outlier, because it featured two game-winners achieved by other means: the tip-in.
The first occurred in one of the night's marquee games: a tense, tight matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, two of the top three contenders in the West. With 13.6 seconds left in overtime and OKC up 89-88, Memphis isolated Zach Randolph in the post. He faced up, tried to drive, and put up a tough runner over Nick Collison and the slow-to-rotate Kendrick Perkins. That left Kevin Durant to box out Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who muscled into position and tipped the ball in with 0.8 seconds on the clock.
The Thunder still had a 20-second timeout they could have used to both advance the ball and try to draw up their own game-winning response, but as Daily Thunder's Royce Young wrote , "Perk inexplicably inbounded the ball [and] Westbrook launched a 70-foot shot that was wide right." OKC's prayer went unanswered, and the Grizzlies won 90-88 .
Watch that play above. After the jump, check out how rookie forward Anthony Davis downed the Boston Celtics in New Orleans.