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Pistons escape Thunder with Iverson's late runner

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Allen Iverson kept the ball this time.

A week after passing up a chance at a winning shot against the Utah Jazz, Iverson hit an off-balance runner with 0.2 seconds left to give the Detroit Pistons a 90-88 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

"The play was for me to run the clock down and try to get to the basket," he said. "There wasn't much time for me to create anything else."

Last Friday, Iverson passed the ball to Rodney Stuckey, who missed a 3-pointer at the end of the first overtime, and Utah went on to win.

Having already scored a dozen points in the fourth quarter on Friday, Iverson took things in his own hands.

"That was a great play by Allen," Pistons coach Michael Curry said. "He hadn't had much going for him in the first three quarters, but then he took over the game."

Detroit have taken eight straight against the Thunder, and haven't lost to the franchise at home since the former Seattle SuperSonics won 93-72 on Dec. 12, 2003. The Pistons didn't have an easy time Friday, though, as they struggled to beat Oklahoma City (3-27).

"We're a young team that is still learning how to finish games, and they are a great team that knows how to do that," Chris Wilcox said. "A.I. had a terrific fourth quarter, and we just didn't have an answer for him."

That's been the story of the Pistons season. They have wins over the Lakers and Cavaliers, but have lost to the hapless Wizards and Timberwolves.

"We keep having lapses," Iverson said. "This team only has three wins, so they are going to be hungry, but we have beaten two of the best teams in the league and lost to two of the worst."

It almost happened again Friday, even after Iverson's off-balance jumper. Jeff Green nearly tipped in a halfcourt alley-oop, but the ball bounced twice off the rim before falling harmlessly away.

"It was a good look, and Jeff is one of our better leapers," Oklahoma city coach Scott Brooks said. "It just slipped out of his hands. It's unfortunate, because it would have been a great overtime."

Iverson led the Pistons with 22 points, and Tayshaun Prince added 16 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Durant had 26 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder.

The Pistons looked sluggish for most of the first three quarters. Oklahoma City shot 39 percent through three periods, but trailed only 66-63 heading into the fourth.

Detroit took advantage of two turnovers by the Thunder in the first minute of the final period to expand its lead to 70-63.

The Pistons were up 14 midway through the fourth, but an 11-0 run pulled Oklahoma City to 84-81 with 2 minutes left.

Iverson then threw the ball away, and Durant's jumper made it a one-point game with 1:33 left. Rodney Stuckey answered with a driving layup, but Iverson fouled Russell Westbrook, and the rookie split the free throws to make it 86-84.

Stuckey then shot an airball, and the Thunder called timeout with 54 seconds left. Durant beat Prince for the tying layup, but Stuckey found Antonio McDyess for an open layup with 27.2 seconds to go.

Joe Smith made it 88-all with a 20-footer -- the eighth straight shot made by Oklahoma City. Iverson ran the clock down to 5 seconds before heading for the basket and throwing in a runner while surrounded by defenders.

"The best feeling is when you are having a quiet game, and you aren't doing much on the offensive end, and then your coach and teammates still trust you with that last shot," he said. "It's easy when you've already scored 30 or 40 points."