“We were definitely determined to get a win on the road, we haven’t been so good on the road,” Villanueva said. “This was a game that we definitely needed.”
The Pistons hit 11 of 18 from 3-point range, lead by Villanueva’s five.
Villanueva, who entered averaging 13.3 points, confesses he is content in his reserve role but made a case for a possible starting spot with his performance.
“I’m fine coming off the bench, that’s what coach wants me to do, be that sparkplug,” Villanueva said. “I’m just accepting my role and that’s what I’m doing.”
Eric Gordon(notes) returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury to score 28 points and Blake Griffin(notes) had 18 points and a career-best 18 rebounds for undermanned Los Angeles, which dropped to 1-9 for the second time in three seasons.
“We just have to do a better job of finishing out games,” Griffin said. “We’ll be all right, we just need to go back to work.”
Rodney Stuckey(notes) made a layup and converted a three-point play to give Detroit a 109-105 lead with 1:30 left in overtime. Jason Maxiell(notes) followed with three free throws for the seven-point cushion.
After the Clippers made the first basket 20 seconds into overtime, they didn’t score again until 14 seconds remained. They missed 10-of-12 shots in the period.
“We did a pretty good job of just locking down on defense,” Stuckey said. “That was the difference of the game, just playing good defense in overtime.”
The Clippers were without regulars Chris Kaman(notes) (knee), Baron Davis(notes) (knee) and Randy Foye(notes) (hamstring). They started three rookies in an undersized lineup that had Griffin starting at center, but still managed to control the lane. They outscored the Pistons 54-32 in the paint but dropped their fifth in a row.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro wasn’t in the mood to make excuses for his inexperienced squad.
“They better wake up, no one is going to feel sorry for you,” he said. “This is the NBA. Everyone is trying to win, but it comes down to guarding better, executing better, making shots and making plays.”
Detroit, which has struggled in the third quarter of games this season, continued that trend by making just 3-of-17 shots in the frame to allow the Clippers to storm back.
Hamilton’s 3-pointer less than a minute into the third made it 62-48. But Los Angeles followed with a 20-5 run as Gordon’s pair of free throws with 2:38 left in the quarter made it 68-67 for the Clippers’ first lead of the night.
Tied at 74 entering the fourth, neither team was able to go ahead by more than two points until Gordon’s pair of free throws capped his personal string of eight straight points and made it 95-91 with 2:55 left.
Villanueva then connected on consecutive 3-pointers before Hamilton’s jumper evened things at 99.
The Pistons had a chance to win it when Hamilton stole the ball in the waning seconds, but missed a long jumper as time expired.
Notes: Los Angeles’ lone win on the season was a 107-92 triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Nov. 3.