Pistons look to get back on track vs. Lakers
One bad game in the midst of a playoff push didn't bother the Detroit Pistons. Back-to-back poor performances? That's a little alarming.
They failed miserably this week against two of the teams they're fighting for a postseason berth, the Brooklyn Nets dismantling them 103-75 on Monday and the Miami Heat shredding them 108-74 on Wednesday.
They'll look to regain some momentum at home on Friday when they face the floundering Los Angeles Lakers.
"After having a tough loss on Monday, I thought we would come out and have a better showing (Wednesday), but we didn't. That's on us," Detroit power forward Blake Griffin told reporters. "We have to be more locked in and ready to go. We (have) to realize what's at stake. These teams that we're playing also have a lot at stake. We need to be more prepared."
Miami scored the first eight points and never trailed Wednesday. The Pistons were down by 12 points after the first quarter but pulled within five by halftime.
Then they completely collapsed after the break, as the Heat scored the first 21 points of the second half. Detroit's eight-point third quarter was its lowest-scoring quarter since November 2012.
"It's a lesson that we have to learn," coach Dwane Casey said after the game. "If we want to make the playoffs, we have to play playoff basketball. It's new to a lot of people with different roles and it's a wakeup call."
Center Andre Drummond saw his franchise-record-tying streak of 19 consecutive double-doubles come to an end against Miami. He had five points and nine rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
The Pistons have bigger concerns with their point guard situation. Starter Reggie Jackson sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter stepping on teammate Zaza Pachulia's foot. If he's out, the roles of backups Ish Smith and Jose Calderon will expand. Rookie Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard could also get some minutes at the point.
Jackson seemed more concerned with the team's play than his health shortly after the game.
"We need to get on this plane first. It's going to be a little disappointing," he said. "Go home and relax and clear your mind to get ready to play basketball. I think the biggest thing is that we haven't been ourselves and just play basketball."
The Lakers won the first meeting between the teams in Los Angeles. Power forward Kyle Kuzma poured in a career-high 41 points in the Lakers' 113-100 triumph on Jan. 9.
Los Angeles will be playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Lakers lost at Toronto 111-98 on Thursday.
They have dropped six of their last seven while sinking out of the postseason picture. It's a different experience for LeBron James, who had 29 points against the Raptors. The Lakers announced Friday that he will not play against the Pistons, citing "load management."
"I mean obviously I would love for the team to be in the postseason," James told the Los Angeles Times. "Even if I'm not a part of it, the postseason I've always loved. But right now it's not the hand I was dealt, so you play the hand that you were dealt until the dealer shuffles the cards and you're dealt another hand and can do that. Definitely I'll be watching it if we're not in there."
Shooting guard Reggie Bullock will play against his former team for the first time since Detroit dealt him to Los Angeles last month.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 15, 2019