By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – For NBA players, a getaway is just around the corner, and at least a few of the Detroit Pistons have All-Star Break plans that include sun, beaches and hot weather.
Currently on a three-game win streak, however, the Pistons (22-29) cannot slip into the vacation mindset just yet.
Hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-33) on Wednesday night, Detroit will try to build on its current momentum against a Cleveland team that, similar to the Pistons, struggled throughout this season but recently hit a stride.
“They also won three in a row,” Pistons guard Brandon Jennings said after Monday’s shootaround. “They also been playing well so far too, and they’re not too far behind, so we definitely can’t take this team lightly and this game.”
In Monday’s game, the first under interim coach John Loyer after the organization fired Maurice Cheeks on Sunday, the Pistons looked dynamic. Playing the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA, Detroit guarded the 3 well. They passed the ball and got double-digit points from six different players, and they got quick buckets on their fast break.
All in all, Detroit played a solid game, and the group did so against one of the best teams in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs (37-15), whom the Pistons defeated 109-100 and led by as many as 23 points in the second half.
In addition to winning three straight, Detroit has won five of its last seven games, one of its best streaks all season.
“It feels good just be able to see it coming together, understanding that it was a process,” said forward Josh Smith, whom the Pistons signed last summer. “There was a lot of different faces, new faces, and we were just trying to get to know each other, and now that you see it’s coming together, it’s coming together at the right time.”
The amount of athleticism and youth on the roster makes running the fast break an ideal option, and the Pistons demonstrated just how well they could execute it Monday. Forward Kyle Singler attributed the team’s success in that regard to Jennings, who like Smith is in his first season with Detroit.
“I think Brandon’s just been doing a great job of pushing the ball, keeping the tempo upbeat, and it’s just his conditioning and it’s basically on his shoulders,” Singler said. “He’s the one that controls the game and controls the ball, so he’s been doing a great job of that lately.”
Smith, who at 28 is one of the oldest players who sees major minutes for the Pistons, said the pace can be exhausting but exhilarating as well.
“It definitely causes a player to get tired fast, but it’s fun,” Smith said with a smile. “Getting up and down, getting some easy fast-break points, getting the opportunity to be able to get something easy instead of us always having to work in a half-court set, finding the difficult shot or shot clock going down, it’s good to be able to get out and run the lanes and create some fast-break points for everybody.”
Vacation might not begin until after the game Wednesday, but the Pistons have already started having more fun.
“There’s always a different vibe in the locker room once we start winning ball games,” Singler said. “It makes the season a little more enjoyable. We’ve just got to keep it going.”