Spurs-Pistons matchup features teams making adjustments
The San Antonio Spurs will have to adjust their rotation once again after losing a steady contributor in their previous game. The Detroit Pistons are going through an adjustment period after losing their starting point guard for an extended stretch.
Those two teams will meet at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena on Saturday.
Spurs forward Rudy Gay suffered a heel injury in the team's 119-107 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday. Gay underwent an MRI exam on Friday and was diagnosed with retrocalcaneal bursitis, which will sideline him for at least two weeks. Gay is averaging 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game.
San Antonio (25-11) has been dealing with injuries to key players throughout the season but that hasn't held it back from moving within one game of slumping Houston in the Southwest Division. The Spurs have won six of their last seven games.
Against the Knicks, the inside duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol combined for 42 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. Gasol is in his second season with the club.
"I think he and L.A. play with each other a lot better," coach Gregg Popovich said. "Pau was new last year, so he's understanding the offense and what we're trying to do. He and L.A. have learned a lot about each other. It's what every team, if you get new guys, they're going to take some time to get that synergy and I think they're starting to do it pretty well."
Sours forward Kyle Anderson took only four shots but made them all, as well as eight free throws, while supplying 16 points and eight rebounds.
"He's not Mr. Athlete but he really understands the game, got a high basketball IQ, and he's got a real herky-jerky game," Popovich said. "It's kind of hard to guard at times and so he's done these things before. So it's not a surprise."
Star forward Kawhi Leonard was rested on Thursday but will return for Saturday's contest. He has played five games since returning from a quad injury and has averaged 12.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 19.0 minutes.
The Pistons (19-15) lost to Orlando 102-89 on Thursday, and that was their first game since Reggie Jackson suffered a severe ankle sprain that will sideline him until after the All-Star break. Ish Smith moved into the starting lineup with Langston Galloway backing him up. Without their usual floor leader, the Pistons shot 39.8 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers and lost for the second time in their last seven games.
Galloway had played most of his minutes at shooting guard prior to Jackson's injury.
"Ish was fine. I don't think it's much of an adjustment for him at all," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Langston didn't play very well (Thursday), but it is an adjustment period. I'd like to see him bring a better defensive disposition."
Detroit's reserves contributed just 12 points and shot 3 of 22 from the field.
"I definitely have to take responsibility for that one," Galloway said. "Not being able to get us some good looks. I think we were getting shots but I think they were kind of rushed. We had a few turnovers to start the fourth. We just have to do a better job, continue to get better with it."
Updated December 29, 2017