LOS ANGELES — Defense will probably dictate when the Detroit Pistons tangle with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at Staples Center.
Both clubs rank among the NBA’s best in defending. The Clippers lead the league in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 90.7 points per game, while producing 102.7 per outing.
The Pistons are second to Los Angeles in scoring defense at 93 points per game, while averaging 100.5 points per game.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul tops the NBA in steals at 3.5 per game.
As a team, Los Angeles is the leader in steals with an average of 10 per game.
Detroit has one of the game’s top defenders in the middle with center Andre Drummond, who is averaging 14.7 boards. And, the Pistons are the fifth-best rebounding club in the NBA at 47.3 per game. The Clippers are rank 11th at 45.2. Both teams are averaging 10.2 boards on the offensive end.
But it isn’t all about defense with the Pistons (4-2), who earned a 103-86 win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday in a game Drummond had 19 points and 20 rebounds. Tobias Harris has been a sparkplug offensively, leading the Pistons at 18.8 points per game.
"He’s a very mature guy and he’s very professional in his approach," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said, according to Pistons.com. "He’s a guy who’s always looking to get better. He looks at his game realistically. He figures out where he needs to improve and he works on it. He’s not an excuse guy. It’s not outside forces and everything else."
Van Gundy also praised Pistons forward Marcus Morris, who is scoring at a 17.5 points per game clip.
"Marcus is the same way (as Harris)," Van Gundy said. "It’s one of the reasons those guys play well. They’re willing to look at their performances realistically and make improvements rather than blaming everything and everyone else."
The Clippers (5-1) return home after a successful two-game stretch on the road, where they have compiled a 3-0 mark this season. They are tied with Oklahoma City atop of the Western Conference, their lone loss being to the Thunder last week.
Los Angeles recorded wins over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday and rolled past the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday behind the performance of Blake Griffin, who scored 26 of his 28 points in the first half en route to a 116-92 romp.
"It’s nice to have those easy looks go down," said Griffin, who shot 13-for-19 from the floor, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It just kind of builds your confidence."
Griffin, though, couldn’t resist crediting the Clippers’ defensive performance for being the difference against the Spurs. After all, defense is the top priority of Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who preaches it practically every time he opens his mouth.
"It starts with defense," Griffin said, according to Clippers.com. "I know we always say that, but it really does."
Said Rivers, "That’s two nights in a row that we’ve had great pace, and our defense has been as good as I’ve seen it. Our hands are everywhere right now, and that’s a good sign."