By NOAH TRISTER/AP Sports Writer
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Lawrence Frank walked quickly toward midcourt as the final seconds ticked away, greeting Doug Collins with a handshake and a few words.
Frank’s future is uncertain in Detroit and Collins is on his way out as Philadelphia’s coach. That’s what happens at the end of a disappointing season.
Greg Monroe had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons made the most of their home finale by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101 on Monday night. For both teams, the game was overshadowed by uncertainty off the court. Collins won’t be back as Philadelphia’s coach, and Pistons owner Tom Gores remained noncommittal before the game on the status of Frank, his coach, and Joe Dumars, his team president.
“Any time there’s a last of anything – so there’s a last home game – for whoever it is, I think everyone has to appreciate the moment,” Frank said. “As a team, collectively, this will be the last time we play on this floor.”
A person familiar with the situation has told The Associated Press that Collins and the Sixers were trying to resolve their future relationship after the coach told them he would not return for a fourth season.
Collins didn’t discuss his future before the game Monday. Philadelphia finishes the season at Indiana on Wednesday night.
“I like what this team is doing, and it is a fun group,” Collins said. “I told them that it is supposed to be great weather in Indy (on Tuesday), so we’ll take the day off, enjoy ourselves and then get together for one last good game.”
The 76ers reached the playoffs the last two seasons, but the best they could manage in 2012-13 was avoiding a 50-loss campaign. They’re 33-48 heading into their finale.
Gores met with reporters briefly and said he was disappointed with Detroit’s season, but it’s not clear what will happen with Dumars and Frank. The Pistons are playing better of late. They’ve won four straight, equaling their longest run of the season.
Detroit trailed 54-51 at halftime Monday but went on a 14-5 run near the end of the third quarter to open a double-digit lead. The Pistons outscored the 76ers 33-21 in the period.
Monroe’s spinning three-point play with 10:10 to go in the fourth made it 89-75.
It was the 36th double-double of the season for Monroe, equaling the most by a Piston since Grant Hill had 44 in 1995-96. Hill also had 36 the following two seasons.
Detroit is finishing up its fourth straight season without a playoff berth, and there’s no telling what the offseason could bring, but the players didn’t seem affected by the uncertainty.
“At the end of the day, this is our job,” Monroe said. “When you step on the court, you have to play, and that’s what I focus on. There’s always going to be stuff that happens off the court. This is a business. There are going to be changes every year. It’s about, whoever you are, just making sure you play the best you can.”
Will Bynum scored 22 points in just over 25 minutes for Detroit. Kyle Singler contributed 16 points and Brandon Knight had 12.
The 76ers trailed by only seven late in the game, but Bynum’s 3-pointer from the left corner made it 106-96.
Dorell Wright had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the 76ers. Jrue Holiday added 14 points.
“We were doing some good things and then we started dribbling a little too much,” Collins said. “Monroe was terrific. Knight had that little stretch where he got hot and hit some shots and then Bynum was good off of the bench.”