Pistons on upswing ahead of Bucks' visit (Dec 28, 2016)
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- A lineup change is making a difference for the Detroit Pistons. Coach Stan Van Gundy isn't ready to pat himself on the back for the move, though.
Detroit played the NBA's best teams after Van Gundy inserted power forward Jon Leuer into the starting five and made Tobias Harris the sixth man. The Pistons were tied with the Golden State Warriors with under two minutes remaining before falling 119-113 on Friday.
The Pistons never trailed on Monday while toppling the Cavaliers 105-90. Detroit, which faces the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Wednesday, snapped a five-game losing streak in the process.
The Pistons are getting off to better starts with Harris perking up on offense, averaging 23.5 points in the past two games. Van Gundy downplays the significance of the lineup change.
"It's two games," he said. "Have I been happy with what I've seen in two games? Yeah, but it's two games. I was pretty happy after the first 21 games, then I wasn't happy for a lot (of games)."
Detroit (15-18) had the advantage of facing the Cavaliers with LeBron James getting the night off. Cleveland's offense fell apart without its franchise player, shooting 38 percent and committing a season-high 22 turnovers.
The Pistons were just happy to regain their footing after their worst stretch of the season.
"We lost some ground in that losing streak," Leuer said. "We know we have to string some (wins) together now."
Detroit will face Milwaukee at The Palace for the second time this season. The Pistons won the first matchup 98-83 on Oct. 30 behind Andre Drummond's 20-point, 23-rebound performance.
The Bucks (14-15) gave away a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Wizards on Monday and lost 107-102 at Washington. That began a four-game road trip for Milwaukee, which also makes stops at Minnesota and Chicago before returning home.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of the late meltdown against the Wizards, "We're going to learn and we're going to get better from this. It's not easy to win on the road. We put ourselves in a position to win. We just didn't close the door."
Milwaukee swingman Tony Snell made six 3-point attempts while scoring a season-high 20 points, but his teammates were blanked from long range. The Wizards had a 21-6 late outburst to erase Milwaukee's lead.
"When it's crunch time and the game is on the line, we have to be better," Bucks center Greg Monroe told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "When we have the lead, we have to find ways to finish out the game with a win. I think the ball kind of sticks late. We have to do a better job of keeping it moving. That's when we're at our best. Then lock in on defense."
The Bucks were missing three players on Monday, and their status for Wednesday's game was uncertain. Forward Mirza Teletovic was placed in the league's concussion protocol on Monday after a hard fall to the court on Friday, when Milwaukee defeated Washington 123-96. Swingman Rashad Vaughn has a sprained left ankle, and guard Steve Novak missed the trip to Washington because of an illness.