The San Antonio Spurs will look to use their home court to get on the winning track when they host the puzzling Detroit Pistons on Friday in a game between two teams trying to stay out of the cellars of their respective conferences.
The Spurs head home after a 117-114 loss at New York on Wednesday, their third straight setback and eighth in their past 11 games. Keldon Johnson led San Antonio with 26 points, while Josh Richardson added 20, Zach Collins 16, Doug McDermott 15 and Tre Jones scored 14.
“We always want to win,” Richardson said. “I wish we could have done a little more, but I’m proud of how the guys played. I think we had a short little lull early in the game, but I think after that we had a good battle.”
San Antonio fought back twice from double-digit deficits to take the lead on a Johnson jumper with under four minutes to play.
The Spurs had a chance to tie or take the lead with 29.7 seconds left, but they couldn’t inbounds the ball in five seconds and were whistled for a violation. Johnson couldn’t hit the rim on a final contested shot at the buzzer.
“Those fourth-quarter executions are difficult for young players,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Takes them to understand that the physicality of the game, especially at the end of the game, and how difficult it is to get open and how to set yourself up. It seems basic, or something easy, but it’s not.”
The Spurs’ season got more difficult on Thursday with the announcement that guard-forward Devin Vassell is to undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee. There is no timetable for the return of the team’s second-leading scorer at 19.4 points per game.
Vassell has missed eight games this year due to knee problems.
The Pistons head to San Antonio on the heels of a stunning 122-119 victory over injury-depleted Golden State in San Francisco on Saddiq Bey’s game-winning 28-foot 3-pointer that beat the final buzzer.
“It was tough. I don’t even remember. I kind of blacked out a little bit,” Bey said of his winning shot. “I had one second so I didn’t have that much time to think, so I had to shoot it. I’m just grateful it went in.”
Bey was back in his role as the Pistons’ sixth man after Killian Hayes returned from a suspension.
“To me, Saddiq is a sixth starter,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “Him being in the second unit is no demotion for him. He’s responded to it and he’s handling it like a pro. He’s done his job. He’s as important as anybody on our team to us.”
Bojan Bogdanovic hit five of Detroit’s 16 3-pointers in the game and finished with a team-high 29 points. Jalen Duren racked up an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Bey added 17 points, Alec Burks 15, Isaiah Stewart 13, Jaden Ivey 12, and Hayes distributed a game-high 13 assists.
Detroit has alternated losses and wins in the first four outings of its five-game road trip, which ends in San Antonio on Friday. The Pistons’ victory allowed them to earn a sweep of the season-series with Golden State.
“A few nights ago, we looked like chopped liver,” Casey said. “We have to find consistency with our focus, our energy.”
–Field Level Media