The Atlanta Hawks’ Tracy McGrady (1) takes a shot against the Detroit Pistons’ Jonas Jerebko in the first half of their game Friday in Auburn Hills, Mich. Joe Johnson hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to send the game to overtime, where the Hawks won.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Joe Johnson stole the ball near his own basket and brought it up the court a bit gingerly. Something was bothering him, although it wasn’t clear what until after the game.
“I jammed these two fingers on my left hand,” the Atlanta star said. “I couldn’t really get my feeling back. I thought we were going to call a timeout, but nobody called a timeout, so I just did what I could to try to get a shot off.”
Johnson’s 3-pointer over Rodney Stuckey with 1.9 seconds left sent the game to overtime, and the Hawks eventually pulled away from the Detroit Pistons for a 107-101 victory Friday night. Johnson scored 28 of his 30 points after halftime.
Detroit led 87-81 after Austin Daye’s baseline shot with 39.9 seconds left, but Marvin Williams cut the lead in half with a 3-pointer with 33.5 seconds to play.
Johnson then stole a pass inside. His jammed fingers were on his non-shooting hand, and as the clock ran down, he kept the ball and made a tough 3-pointer to tie it.
The Hawks started the overtime with a 12-2 run, including 3-pointers by Williams and Josh Smith.
Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said he’d wanted his team to foul before Johnson’s tying shot.
“We kicked that game. We should have won the game, but we didn’t make winning plays down the stretch,” Frank said. “I think we were defeated as soon as that shot went in, and the game went to overtime. We have to be mentally tougher than that.”
Greg Monroe scored 22 points for the Pistons and Brandon Knight added 20.
Johnson was 1 of 9 from the field in the first half, but he recovered in a big way, surpassing 14,000 points for his career and continuing a strong stretch for him since the Hawks lost Al Horford earlier this month to a torn pectoral muscle.
The Hawks are 10-1 when Johnson scores at least 20 points.
“To me it’s just an unbelievable win,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “It was a gutsy performance. We were literally dead in the water.”
Atlanta rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit and tied it in the fourth quarter, but Jason Maxiell’s three-point play after an offensive rebound put the Pistons ahead 73-70 and started what looked like a decisive 8-0 run.
“We just wanted to kind of hang in
there,” Drew said. “We hit a bad stretch in that fourth period, but I still felt that if we got some good looks, got some guys to knock a couple of 3s down, we’ll still be right there.”
The Pistons couldn’t hold on, starting a stretch of seven games in nine days on a sour note. Detroit had a chance to win it even after Johnson’s big 3-pointer in the final seconds of the fourth, but Knight’s last-second shot didn’t come close.
“It was frustrating when that shot went in, because we had controlled the whole game, but you have to forget about that and play the next five minutes,” Knight said. “You can’t give in just because the game went to OT.”
Maxiell led all scorers with 12 points in the first half. Detroit led 46-35 after Monroe’s three-point play with 0.5 seconds left in the second quarter. Neither team was shooting all that well, but the Hawks turned the ball over 11 times in the half.
Detroit was playing without Tayshaun Prince (family matter) and Ben Gordon (sore shoulder).
Atlanta guard Jeff Teague left in the second half with a left ankle injury.
Williams finished with 22 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks, and Smith had 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
NOTES: Daye, who scored a career-high 28 points for the Pistons in a loss to Miami on Wednesday night, finished with 12 on Friday. ... Johnson has 14,010 career points.