AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -The Detroit Pistons found themselves in a unique situation Sunday - trailing before the start of overtime.
Thanks to a technical foul called on Richard Hamilton after regulation ended, Detroit trailed San Antonio 94-93 when the ball was tossed up to start the extra period.
It didn't matter, though, as Detroit dominated the extra session and in a 109-101 victory.
``This game could have very easily slipped away, but we stayed focused,' Detroit coach John Kuester said. ``We could have very easily hung our heads when some things didn't go the way we wanted, but we kept our poise.'
The Pistons appeared to have the game won when they led by 11 points with five minutes left, but San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich instructed his team to intentionally foul Ben Wallace on five straight possessions.
Wallace missed six of the 10 free throws before being taken out of the game - flinging his headband in disgust - and the Spurs were able to narrow the gap.
Popovich was testy after the game when asked if it had been an easy decision to start fouling Wallace, a 44 percent shooter from the line.
``Not really,' he snapped after asking the question to be repeated.
Kuester said he stayed with Wallace as long as he could.
``I have a lot of confidence in Ben,' he said. ``Most of the time, we'll keep him on the floor in that situation. The way he's playing this year, we're going to win or lose with him.'
Wallace's misses let Manu Ginobili take over, and he scored 11 points in the final 2:20 of the fourth quarter, including a layup with 27.5 seconds left that forced overtime.
Ginobili then hit the free throw after Hamilton was called for the technical and thought the Spurs were back in control.
``With two minutes left, we didn't think we had a chance, and then we got it to overtime,' he said. ``We got the free throw, and then we won the tip, and then everything started going wrong.'
Detroit went on an 8-2 run once the extra period started, and cruised to the win. Hamilton finished with 27 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 20.
``We almost gave the game away making stupid mistakes, but we stayed aggressive,' Stuckey said. ``This is a big win for us. We're fighting for our lives right now, and we need to keep coming back with wins.'
Tim Duncan had 29 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, while Ginobili scored 21.
``We battled our guts out, but we shot poorly and the Pistons made big shots,' Popovich said. ``You play games and sometimes things like that happen.'
San Antonio played without Tony Parker, who sat out with a left hip injury. Parker missed the Spurs' last game before the All-Star break with the same problem, but had played in two games before aggravating the injury Thursday against Philadelphia.
The game also ended San Antonio's annual Rodeo Road Trip. The Spurs, who last played at home on Jan. 31, went 4-4 on the 19-day, 7,762-mile trip.
Antonio McDyess received a loud ovation from the Palace crowd when he was introduced before the San Antonio starters prior to the game. McDyess played the last five seasons for Detroit before signing with San Antonio in the offseason.
``I didn't expect a standing ovation. That was a very nice moment for me,' McDyess said. ``I was hoping no one was looking at my face, because I was getting quite emotional. I played some great basketball here, and my heart still belongs to these fans.'
NOTES: There were several unusually hard collisions in the game. Ginobili ran into a screen by Wallace and George Hill accidentally elbowed Jonas Jerebko in the side of the face. ... Duncan hit his first regular-season 3-pointer since March 28, 2007 in the last moments of overtime.
The Associated Press News Service
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