Detroit, which has won two straight NBA titles by stressing defense, saw some remarkable defense by the San Antonio Spurs Sunday.
Holding the Pistons to season lows for points and field goal percentage, the Spurs scored an 85-78 victory, led by 25 points from David Robinson."They played great defense," Detroit coach Chuck Daly said.
Detroit, which got 22 points from Joe Dumars and 19 from James Edwards, was a dismal 33 of 98 from the field for 33.7 percent.
The Spurs, winners of a season-high seven in a row at home, were almost as ineffective, hitting only 37.5 percent.
But San Antonio held Detroit without a field goal during seven minutes of the fourth quarter.
"This wasn't our type of game," Spurs guard Willie Anderson said. "But we went to the half court offense and got the job done."
The Spurs led 68-66 with 9:39 to play when Robinson triggered the key run of the game, scoring three points as San Antonio went on an 8-2 spurt.
Down 76-68 with 5:43 left, Detroit came no closer than five the rest of the way. From the 7:19 mark of the final period until the final four-tenths of a second, the Pistons failed to score a field goal.
"We felt good for the first three quarters," Dumars said. "The tempo was in our favor. But we weren't able to convert when we needed it."
San Antonio, which got 16 points apiece from Rod Strickland and Terry Cummings, tied the score 38-38 on a Cummings jumper at the first-half buzzer.
The score still was tied with two minutes left in the third quarter, before San Antonio scored the final six points of the period and the first two of the fourth to go up 66-58.
Three straight Mark Aguirre field goals brought Detroit within 66-64 with 10:07 left. But Detroit made only three more field goals the rest of the way.
"At the right time of the game, we picked up the pace and put them away," Cummings said.
It was not a pretty game to watch.
"Nobody had confidence in their shots," San Antonio coach Larry Brown said. "This was just an ugly game."
Detroit has lost 15 of 30 games without injured Isiah Thomas, including 10 of the last 15.
"We wanted to control the tempo and keep them from running," Edwards said. "But we weren't able to and they were off to the races."
Trail Blazers 117, Hornets 102
At Portland, Ore., Clyde Drexler scored 20 of his 27 points in the first half to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 117-102 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
Portland is 8-0 against the third-year Hornets and are 26-1 against the four recent expansion teams. Jerome Kersey and Kevin Duckworth each had 8 points in the third period as the Blazers extended a 10-point halftime lead to 97-75 after three periods.
Charlotte went scoreless over 5:27, including the last three minutes of the third quarter. The Blazers took their biggest lead at 102-75 on Walter Davis' 10-footer with 9:56 left in the game.
Kersey finished with 22 points and Cliff Robinson had 16 for Portland. Rex Chapman had 15 for Charlotte, which lost its fourth straight and seventh in its last eight.
Lakers 113, SuperSonics 96
At Inglewood, Calif., Magic Johnson scored 14 of his 33 points in the third quarter and added 11 assists Sunday night as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Seattle SuperSonics at the Forum for the 14th straight time with a 113-96 victory.
Johnson returned to the lineup after tendinitis in both knees kept him out of Friday night's home loss to Milwaukee. He had a 3-pointer, two free throws and a dunk during a 14-4 run to extend the Lakers' 8-point halftime lead to 74-56 with midway through the third quarter.
The Lakers remained one game behind Portland in the NBA's Pacific Division.
Shawn Kemp scored 21 points for the Sonics, who have lost six of eight games. The defeat was Seattle's 10th straight regular-season loss at the Forum.
Sedale Threatt of the Sonics was ejected with 3:23 left in the third period after punching James Worthy under the chin. Worthy made the technical free throw and added a short jumper to give the Lakers an 82-64 lead.