The Detroit Pistons responded nicely to the firing of Maurice Cheeks with a win on Monday night over the San Antonio Spurs. Cheeks was fired on Sunday after just 50 games with the team in which they posted a 21-29 record.
John Loyer was appointed as the team’s interim head coach despite fans’ efforts to have Rasheed Wallace placed there. Loyer has spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant coach, including stints with the Portland Trail Blazers (2003-2005), Philadelphia 76ers (2005-2009), New Jersey Nets (2009-2011), and the Pistons (2011-2014). Perhaps this coaching change is the push that the team needs to make a run at the playoffs.
The Pistons started the game off hot and never looked back. Brandon Jennings led the way with 21 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Rodney Stuckey, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond all played exceptional as well. Stuckey had 20 points, Monroe chipped in with 15 points and 10 boards and Drummond added 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, one of which landed in the SportsCenter top ten as he swatted a Nando de Colo layup attempt that landed near half court. It was immediately picked up by Jennings who took it for a fast break layup.
A key to the Pistons’ victory was their ability to shut down Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who each scored only 11 points.
Despite their lackluster first half of the season, the Pistons have turned it up a notch lately. The Pistons have now won five of seven games and currently sit in the ninth spot of the Eastern Conference. They have the same record as the Charlotte Bobcats, who currently hold the eight seed, but are out of the playoff picture as of now because of head-to-head record. The two teams will face each other in a home-and-home series starting Tuesday Feb. 18 after the All-Star break.