Ex-Detroit Pistons score NBA Finals-winning basket and make defensive play of the game

Detroit Free Press

Two Detroit Pistons played hero Monday night, to bring the first-ever NBA championship to the Denver Nuggets.

That’s right, the final six points of Game 5 were scored by two former Pistons in the Nuggets’ thrilling 94-89 win over the Miami Heat at Ball Arena in Denver. And two other ex-Pistons watched it from the Nuggets’ bench.

Bruce Brown’s offensive putback layup was the Finals-winning basket with 1:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope then made the defensive play of the game, catching a wayward pass thrown right to him from Miami’s Jimmy Butler. KCP was fouled and sank two free throws with 24.7 seconds left for a 92-89 lead.

Brown then rebounded Butler’s missed game-tying 3-pointer, was fouled with 14.3 seconds left and sank both free throws for a 94-89 advantage. That was the final margin.

PISTONS MAILBAG: Who stands out at No. 5 pick, win/loss expectations for 2023-24

The Nuggets, the top seed in the Western Conference, won the series, 4-1, over the East’s eighth-seed Heat.

Two other former Pistons guards, Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith, also will be getting rings with the Nuggets. Jackson started for the Pistons from 2015-20, with Smith as his backup for three seasons. Jackson played one minute in the Finals and Smith did not play. Jackson joined the Nuggets during the season, and Smith was an offseason trade acquisition along with Caldwell-Pope from Washington.

Another Pistons connection: Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is the son of former Pistons assistant, Brendan Malone (1988-95, 2014-16), who spent 30 years as an NBA coach. He won two titles with the Bad Boys Pistons on Chuck Daly’s bench.

OFFSEASON GUIDE: Pistons the rare team with cap space to strike in NBA free agency, trade market

Caldwell-Pope, 30, was the eighth overall pick by the Pistons in the 2013 draft, where he spent four seasons. He signed in 2017 as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers and won the NBA title in 2020 in the Orlando bubble, also over the Heat. He is signed next season and has a player option in 2024-25.

Caldwell-Pope scored 11 points in 34 minutes Monday, including a big 3-pointer to put the Nuggets ahead 86-79, before Butler woke up and scored the Heat’s final 13 points to take the lead.

Brown, 26, was signed to a two-year deal in 2022 free agency. He has a player option this summer for $6.8 million. He was the No. 42 overall pick by the Pistons in the 2018 draft. He played in Detroit for two seasons, then became the first casualty of Troy Weaver, who took over as general manager in 2020. Brown was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets in what became a three-team trade (the Pistons initially got back Dzanan Musa and a second-round pick before the deal was expanded to include the Los Angeles Clippers and multiple players and picks).

Brown scored 10 points off the bench in 28 minutes in Game 5, shooting just 4-for-14, including 0-for-5 from 3. But his hustle and intelligence proved to be enough, after his breakout 21-point performance Friday in Game 4, which included 11 points in the fourth quarter to ice the 108-95 win. He made several highlight-reel plays late in Friday’s game, including a sweet reverse past Heat standout defender Bam Adebayo.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets in Game 5 with 28 points, 16 rebounds and four assists, Jamal Murray had 14 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, and Michael Porter Jr. added 16 points and 13 rebounds.

ANALYSIS: 5 roster questions new Pistons coach Monty Williams must answer

Jokic, the NBA MVP in both 2021 and 2022, and the MVP runner-up this season, was named Finals MVP.

Tuesday is a big day for the current Pistons: They will introduce Monty Williams as their new head coach at 4:30 p.m. from their practice facility in Detroit.

Articles You May Like

The Pindown: Searching for New Leadership
Should the Detroit Pistons go star hunting this offseason?
G League Ignite’s Tyler Smith can help the Pistons stretch the floor
Detroit Pistons Player Grades: Pistons’ young core showed flashes but mostly didn’t measure up

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *