Monroe returns as Pistons look for first win Saturday
The Detroit Pistons have fallen short in their first two games under Stan Van Gundy while playing without one of their top scorers and rebounders from the past three seasons.
Greg Monroe, though, is slated to return as the Pistons try to give their new coach his first win in Saturday night’s home opener against the Brooklyn Nets (7 p.m. pregame, 7:30 tip-off on FOX Sports Detroit).
Monroe was suspended for two games after getting arrested on a DUI charge in February, and the Pistons allowed each of those opponents to pull away late.
They trailed by two with less than three minutes to go in an 89-79 loss to Denver in Wednesday’s opener and rallied from a 19-point deficit Thursday against Minnesota before suffering a 97-91 defeat.
After tying the game with 1:43 remaining, Detroit allowed the Timberwolves to go on a 9-1 run while missing four consecutive shots and its final three free throws.
"That was the first real adversity this year and we failed the test badly," Van Gundy said. "It was a collective meltdown and a lack of fight. That’s very, very disappointing."
The Pistons are shooting 39.4 percent overall, 27.7 percent from 3-point range and 59.4 percent from the free-throw line.
They shot 48.1 percent and averaged 106.8 points while winning three of four meetings last season with the Nets, including both at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit is 48-8 in the series at home since the beginning of the 1985-86 season.
Andre Drummond shot 67.4 percent in the four 2013-14 matchups and averaged 20.3 points and 17.7 rebounds in the final three. Monroe had 40 points on 18-of-30 shooting (60.0 percent) in the first two but scored 18 while making eight of 20 shots in the final two.
Monroe has averaged 16.5 points on 60.5 percent shooting – his best showing against any opponent – and 9.8 rebounds in 14 games against the Nets.
He’ll be facing a Brooklyn team that couldn’t slow down Boston in Wednesday’s opener. The Nets let the Celtics score at least 32 points in the first three quarters, shoot 55.7 percent for the game and get eight players in double figures in a 121-105 defeat.
Brooklyn was outscored 62-40 in the paint in coach Lionel Hollins’ debut and committed 21 turnovers, which led to 25 points for the Celtics.
"It was like open gate. All the sheep got out of the gate. It was layup after layup," Hollins said. "It was the 62 points in the paint, the loose balls and the turnovers. … It’s not easily correctable. It takes a lot of effort mentally and physically, and we’ve got to go do it."
The Nets are playing without center Brook Lopez, who is again dealing with an ailing foot. Lopez was limited to 17 games last season with a broken foot and will reportedly be out again Saturday due to a sprain.
His absence might be especially felt in this game. He’s averaged 21.5 points on 61.9 percent shooting in his last 14 matchups against the Pistons.