Pelicans praise defense in preparing for Pistons
The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off their best defensive game of the season.
The Detroit Pistons are coming off of one of their worst offensive games of the season.
They play each other Wednesday in New Orleans.
"We approached the game the right way," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said of his team's 105-85 victory at Memphis on Monday. "I thought we played extremely hard, and did a good job of playing with each other. That was one of the best defensive games we've had this year."
The 85 points allowed by the Pelicans easily surpassed their previous low, which also came against the Grizzlies in a 114-95 victory in New Orleans on Jan. 7.
"Obviously, they're not a team that runs up and down and scores a lot of points, but we held them under 90 points," Gentry said. "I thought we did a good job of being in positions to help on the screen-and-rolls, being up on them when they couldn't turn the corner and start downhill."
The performance came on the heels of back-to-back poor defensive performances in losses at Golden State (147-140) and Portland (128-112) last week.
All-Star forward Anthony Davis suffered a sprained index finger against the Trail Blazers and is expected to miss a week or two. Jahlil Okafor made his first start of the season in place of Davis against Memphis and had 20 points and 10 rebounds, making 9 of 11 shots in 35 minutes.
But it was the team's improved defense that was most significant in the win, which enabled New Orleans to finish 2-3 on its longest road trip of the season.
"That just speaks volumes to our team, our resiliency to bounce back after the Portland game," Okafor said. "We were pretty ashamed of how we let them score at will, but you can't hang your head. You have to bounce back and make the corrections."
Gentry opted to start Okafor instead of forward Nikola Mirotic, in order for Mirotic to provide scoring from an otherwise limited bench. Mirotic scored 18 points against the Grizzlies, making 5 of 12 3-pointers.
The Pistons quickly fell behind by double figures and never recovered in a 101-87 loss at Washington on Monday. It was Detroit's third-lowest point total of the season.
"There's no excuse for it," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
"We're professional players. We didn't start playing until the second half. The game starts, we've got to get started. You can't coach effort and focus."
Blake Griffin had 29 points, nine rebounds and four assists. But only Reggie Bullock (12 points) joined him with double-figure points.
"I think we came out lackadaisical and we should've been firing on all cylinders," guard Langston Galloway said. "Early game, we should be coming out ready to play. We came out a little slow and it cost us in the end."
This is the middle game of a three-game Pistons' road trip that concludes Friday in Dallas.
"We've got two more games on this road (trip) and we've got to get both of them," Galloway said.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 22, 2019