The Detroit Pistons could not stop the woeful and depleted Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.
Now the Pistons are tasked with trying to defend the best team in the Eastern Conference when they host the Toronto Raptors on Monday.
Detroit set a franchise record by making 23 3-pointers in Memphis, yet still lost 130-117. Conversely, the Pistons allowed season highs of 57.8 percent shooting and 130 points.
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Coach Stan Van Gundy, whose job status will be determined shortly after the season, was mortified how easily the Grizzlies picked his team apart.
“Our defense was horrendous,” Van Gundy told reporters. “They scored over 30 in every quarter. There’s nothing to be happy about there. Our effort was bad. Our concentration was bad. We were terrible defensively.”
The Pistons (38-42) had won eight of their previous 10 games following a stretch of 13 losses in 16 games, which assured them of its ninth losing season in the last decade since reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2008.
“You’ve got to finish strong,” Detroit point guard Ish Smith told Pistons.com. “But these teams are good, too. What you have to do is be ready to play at all times. Guys are playing with freedom. They’re getting an opportunity to play. I’ve been in that position several times. That’s what these teams are doing — being aggressive and playing with a lot of freedom.
Toronto (58-22) has contributed to the Pistons’ woes, winning the first three games of the four-game season series. The last meeting brought the most entertainment value, with the Raptors pulling out a 121-119 overtime win on Detroit’s home floor March 7. DeMar DeRozan scored 42 points and Fred VanVleet hit the game-winning shot with 1.1 seconds remaining.
DeRozan and center Jonas Valanciunas were rested in Sunday’s 112-101 home victory over Orlando while VanVleet exited with lower back tightness C.J. Miles scored a team-high 22 points off the bench and rookie forward OG Anunoby supplied a career-high 21 points and eight rebounds.
“We needed it. He needed that,” coach Dwane Casey said of Anunoby’s outing. “We’re trying to rest people. It’s not like we totally need rest, but I feel like it’s the prudent thing to do for our team.”
Point guard Kyle Lowry could get a rest against Detroit, though he feels he doesn’t need one. Lowry contributed 11 points and seven assists on Sunday.
“I haven’t played that many minutes this year, so it’s a little bit different for me,” said Lowry, who averages 32.2 minutes this season after playing 37.4 per game last season “I don’t need the rest. We get paid to play.”
Toronto center Lucas Noguiera left Sunday’s game early with hamstring tightness. Nogueira’s exit increases the possibility that Valanciunas will dress on Monday.
The Pistons will be missing two regulars.
Forward Blake Griffin has been sidelined the last five games with an ankle injury. Shooting guard Reggie Bullock has been shut down due to a swollen knee.
Toronto has the Eastern Conference’s second-best road record at 24-15. Boston has gone 28-12 on the road. The Pistons are 25-15 at their new Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit but have just 13 road wins.
Toronto has won the last five meetings and eight of the last 10.