The Detroit Pistons are playing down to the level of their competition of late, and that strategy backfired on them Thursday night. The Pistons will try to take care of business on Saturday, when they take a step up in competition by hosting the San Antonio Spurs.
Detroit was missing its starting backcourt combination of Avery Bradley (groin) and Reggie Jackson (ankle) on Thursday in a 102-89 loss to the Orlando Magic, but coach Stan Van Gundy was not interested in using that as an excuse. “It didn’t have anything to do with being without guys to be quite honest,” Van Gundy told reporters. “We weren’t ready to play at the beginning. Our starting lineup was not prepared to play, didn’t bring anything to the game. ... We don’t need everybody to have great nights, but we can’t have that many guys have that bad a night and think we’re going to get wins.” The Spurs are winners of three straight and six of their last seven games as LaMarcus Aldridge continues to carry the load. Aldridge scored 25 points on Thursday as San Antonio skipped past the Knicks 119-107 despite resting Kawhi Leonard.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Southwest (San Antonio), FS Detroit
ABOUT THE SPURS (25-11): The frontcourt combination of Aldridge and Pau Gasol is operating in high gear of late, and Gasol filled up the box score with 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in Thursday’s win. The 37-year-old recorded a double-double in each of the last three games, starting with a triple-double in last Saturday’s 108-99 win at Sacramento. Leonard continues to be brought along slowly by the team after missing the first 27 with a quad injury and logged a season-high 26 minutes in Tuesday’s win over Brooklyn before taking the night off on Thursday.
ABOUT THE PISTONS (19-15): Jackson’s injury elevated Ish Smith to the starting point guard spot, leaving Langston Galloway to run the second unit. That second unit shot a combined 3-of-22 from the floor on Thursday and totaled 12 points, including three points on 1-of-9 shooting and one assist for Galloway. “I think we were just trying to still get used to playing with each other again and taking this game as a hit on the chin and we have to get better,” Galloway told reporters. “They came out with a lot of energy and outplayed us.”
1. Pistons C Andre Drummond grabbed 18 rebounds in each of the last two games and is enjoying a string of four straight double-doubles.
2. Spurs SG Danny Green is 7-of-12 from the floor in two games since returning from a groin injury.
3. San Antonio took the last six in the series, including a 96-93 home win on Dec. 4.
PREDICTION: Spurs 109, Pistons 106