The Detroit Pistons carry a lengthy losing streak into the opener of a five-game homestand.
The Pistons have lost seven straight heading into Monday night’s matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Detroit committed 24 turnovers while enduring a 114-90 thumping from Cleveland on Saturday night. The Pistons were down nine points at halftime, then got outscored 42-22 in the third period.
“In the third quarter, when they turned up the energy and intensity, we kind of got back on our heels,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “You’re not going to beat anybody turning the ball over 24 times, and then they got themselves going, got the shots they wanted. The persistence and sustainability of our defense and our play has to grow, and that’s the issue as a young team.”
It hasn’t helped that Casey’s starting five and rotation has been in constant flux due to injuries and roster additions and subtractions.
Leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic sat out on Saturday due to Achilles soreness. Power forward Isaiah Stewart (right hip soreness) and center Jalen Duren (ankle soreness) also were sidelined, forcing Casey to construct an entirely new front-court lineup. Guard Killian Hayes left the game in the third quarter due to a hand injury.
Marvin Bagley III was a bright spot, leading the Pistons with 20 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Bagley is averaging 17.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in four games since returning from a hand injury that kept him out for nearly two months.
“Really proud of the way he played,” Casey said. “The amount of force he played with was really impressive against two of the top big men in the league.”
The Trail Blazers will play the tail end of a back-to-back and the third game of a six-game road swing. Portland snapped a three-game losing streak with a 122-119 win over Orlando on Sunday.
Damian Lillard carried the Trail Blazers with 41 points, his 14th 40-plus-point outing this season. He’s averaging 42.2 points over the last five games.
“We had to have this one,” he said. “We’ve got (18) games left now. Everybody else is playing with a sense of urgency because they know the race is tight. Lose one and you can drop three spots. Win a couple and you can really make up some ground.”
Nassir Little hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute vs. Orlando, and the Trail Blazers clinched the victory with free throws.
“We know everybody’s going to do the best they can to take Dame away, and everybody else has to be aggressive,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “That was a big-time shot.”
Former Piston Jerami Grant had 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Grant scored 36 points in 28 minutes when the Trail Blazers defeated the Pistons 135-106 on Jan. 2.
Portland played without starters Jusuf Nurkic (left calf strain) and Anfernee Simons (right ankle sprain) on Sunday.
On Monday, Billups will coach against the franchise he took to the NBA Finals in 2004 and 2005.
–Field Level Media