LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Blake Griffin scored a career-high 50 points as the Detroit Pistons extended their unbeaten start to the season with an overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Griffin weighed in with a driving layup to tie the score with just under two seconds left on the clock and drew a foul from Robert Covington before making a free throw to seal a 133-132 victory at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena.
Griffin also weighed in with 14 rebounds and six assists as the Pistons laid down a marker to their Eastern Conference rivals.
Griffin’s career night also included one highlight-reel worthy moment in the second quarter when he soared above Sixers big man Joel Embiid to slam down a monster dunk.
“We just kept fighting,” Griffin said. “We kept taking punches”.
Griffin, who was showered with chants of “M-V-P” throughout, said he had been determined to nail his winning free throw after missing six earlier in the game.
“I’m going to go and ice and then get back to the free throw line to practice,” he said.
Griffin was one of five players to finish with double digit scoring figures, with Reggie Jackson claiming 23 points and Ish Smith adding 21 off the bench.
The victory gave Detroit three wins out of three as they set out on their latest bid to return to the postseason.
The Pistons have not made the playoffs since 2016, when they finished eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia’s preparations meanwhile were jolted earlier Tuesday when Australian-born guard Ben Simmons was ruled out with tightness in his lower back.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said the decision to rest Simmons was precautionary, adding that he hopes to play against Milwaukee on Wednesday.
With Simmons missing, Embiid stepped up to shoulder the offensive burden with 33 points while J.J. Redick added 30. Covington added 16 points, and Dario Saric 14.
Elsewhere Monday, New Orleans and Denver joined Detroit by preserving their unbeaten starts to the season.
Anthony Davis scored 34 points for the Pelicans in a 116-109 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in New Orleans.
Davis pulled down 12 rebounds and contributed two assists as the Pelicans’ all-round scoring power overwhelmed the Clippers.
Elfrid Payton had 20 points while Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic added 18 points each to leave the Pelicans at 3-0.
After a hard-fought first half, the Pelicans pulled away with a big third quarter which saw them open up a 91-84 lead heading into the fourth which they held onto until the final buzzer.
In Denver meanwhile, the Nuggets improved to 4-0 with a 126-112 blowout over the Sacramento Kings.