Iverson got some timely assistance from Al Thornton, who was called for goaltending by referee Tommy Nunez Jr. after swatting away a driving scoop shot with 4.9 seconds on the clock. The ruling gave the Detroit Pistons the deciding points in an 88-87 victory on Sunday.
“You know you’re having a bad-shooting game when you get the game-winner— and that don’t even go in,” Iverson said after going 7-for-22 from the field and finishing with 18 points and 10 assists.
“Finally, I got an easy shot that I knew was going in to put us up by one point, and somebody comes out of nowhere on a goaltending. It was so loud, so at first I didn’t know they had called it.”
Iverson made a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter, ending an eight-game drought in which he was 0-for-8 from behind the arc. But he missed his other five 3-point attempts against the Clippers.
“All day I got some great looks and a lot of those shots felt good, but they just didn’t go in,” Iverson said. “I think it goes all the way back to grade school when the coaches tell you to just stay with it and stay positive regardless of what’s happening in the game. I guess just being a veteran helped me out today.”
Rodney Stuckey scored 24 points and Tayshaun Prince added 20, helping extend Detroit’s winning streak to seven games in a matchup of injury-depleted teams. The four-time defending Central Division champs have beaten the Clippers 12 straight times and have won the last six meetings at Staples Center.
Rookie guard Eric Gordon scored a career-high 31 points for the Clippers, but missed a 15-footer over Prince as time expired.
“Eric was hot all night. It’s just too bad his last shot didn’t fall,” Thornton said. “Things like that happen, and a loss is a loss. so we can’t carry that through to the next game. A win would help rebuild our team chemistry and develop a more winning mentality.”
The Clippers dropped to 8-25 with their seventh straight loss. Marcus Camby had 14 points and 20 rebounds, extending his double-digit rebound streak to 20 games. He is averaging 18.3 over his last eight.
Rasheed Wallace missed his second game due to a sore right foot and Richard Hamilton sat out his fifth straight because of a groin strain. Antonio McDyess, who missed the previous two because of sore ribs, had 15 rebounds and six points in 24 minutes.
Detroit scored eight straight points to take a 78-70 lead with 7:04 to play. The Clippers tied it at 80 with two free throws and a short jumper by Gordon that capped a 10-2 spurt with 2:56 remaining. But the Prince spun around Mardy Collins for a dunk and Iverson hit a 20-footer from the key 32 seconds later, giving Detroit an 86-82 edge with 1:20 left.
Gordon, the Clippers’ No. 1 draft pick, responded with a driving layup before Iverson missed a 15-foot fadeaway jumper with 41 seconds to go. Gordon put Los Angeles ahead 87-86 on a three-point play, banking in a six-foot running jumper while he was fouled by Arron Afflalo with 21.9 seconds on the clock.
Prince slipped while dribbling the ball during Detroit’s next possession and quickly called for a 20-second timeout. giving the Pistons a chance to set up the play that led to the goaltending call.
Playing without Zach Randolph, Baron Davis, Chris Kaman and Ricky Davis, the Clippers used their 13th different starting lineup as Fred Jones started for the first time in five games since signing with them as a free agent on Dec. 28. Last season, coach Mike Dunleavy used a league-high 39 starting lineups.
Jones lasted only 2 minutes and 37 seconds, leaving the game because of a sprained right foot. But Gordon powered the Clippers to a 54-52 halftime lead with 18 points. Over the last six games, Gordon is averaging 21.3 points and shooting 47.2 percent.
Collins, who came to the Clippers along with Randolph in a trade with the New York Knicks on Nov. 21, had a career-high 12 assists. But he shot 1-for-7 from the field and had two points in 42 minutes.
Fourteen of Detroit’s 21 victories have been by single-digit margins. Thirteen of the Clippers’ 25 losses have been by single-digit margins, and six of them by three points or less. … Iverson is averaging 17.9 points and 5.6 assists in 28 games with the Pistons after joining them in a trade from Denver on Nov. 3. … The Clippers haven’t beaten Detroit since Nov. 3, 2002 at Los Angeles, when Clifford Robinson missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game for the Pistons. Detroit has won 21 of the last 25 meetings overall. … The Clippers have shot under 50 percent from the field in each of their first 33 games. Last season, they didn’t shoot 50 percent or better until their 33rd game, when they became the last team in the league to do it. … Detroit is 13-3 since inserting Stuckey into the starting lineup.