Grizzlies at Pistons preview
By Kevin Chrost
If the Detroit Pistons are going to end a three-game losing streak, they need to beat a team they've had no success against since 2009.
Though the Memphis Grizzlies have just about matched the Pistons' futility this season, they'll be going for their ninth straight win against them Sunday in Detroit.
The Pistons (14-19) are also out to end a four-game home skid after closing 2013 on Monday with a 106-99 loss to Washington at the Palace of Auburn Hills. They were outscored 28-12 in the fourth quarter, marking the third time in their last four at home that they've let a lead slip away in the final period.
"We had a nice game going for about three and a half quarters," coach Maurice Cheeks said. "In the fourth quarter, we just got stagnant. We didn't keep playing the way we had played for those three quarters. They ran pick-and-roll; they kept scoring. We didn't keep scoring for whatever reason."
Forward Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while center Andre Drummond scored 16 and pulled down 16 boards.
Detroit fell to 6-11 at home and had five days off to think about getting things right as it opens the new year with what appears to be a favorable stretch. After hosting the Grizzlies (14-18), the Pistons - a surprising 8-8 on the road - travel to New York, Toronto and Philadelphia.
But after the loss to the Wizards, Cheeks said that kind of mentality is what got the Pistons in trouble when their current skid started in Orlando on Dec. 27.
"We weren't in a position to think about a team with a lesser record that we're going to have a letdown," he said. "We talked about that in Orlando. We're not in that position to think like that. Maybe these five days are coming at a time when we can sit back and relax and work on some things that we need to work on and just try to get ourselves better over these next few days and go from there."
Against Washington, Detroit's league-worst free-throw shooting (66.5 percent) was again one of its biggest problems. The Pistons went 21 of 35 from the line and are shooting 62.6 percent over a 1-5 stretch.
Likewise, hitting just one more from the stripe in regulation in a 111-108 overtime loss at Memphis on Nov. 1 could have snapped Detroit's losing streak to the Grizzlies. The Pistons, who led 75-70 early in the fourth, went 17 for 24 from the line in the loss.
Guard Rodney Stuckey scored 19 points off the bench in that contest, though he missed Monday's game with a shoulder injury and was limited in practice late this week.
Memphis continues to struggle without center Marc Gasol, who has been out since suffering a sprained MCL on Nov. 22 against San Antonio. The Grizzlies were 7-5 with him and had won four straight before the injury. Including the loss to the Spurs, they're 7-13 without the reigning defensive player of the year after falling 111-108 Friday in Denver.
"We didn't guard well," Memphis coach David Joerger said. "They got the loose balls. They got the offensive rebounds and we didn't convert on fast breaks. We gave up too many easy baskets."
Forward Zach Randolph had 25 points and 13 rebounds, and guard Mike Conley scored 23 with eight assists. Conley scored 22 in the win over the Pistons earlier this season, and he's shooting 63.6 percent in his last three games against them.
The Grizzlies are 7-4 on the road since losing their first three away from home this season.
The Grizzlies will return home on Tuesday to take on the San Antonio Spurs. Find Tickets.
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