A hot second quarter helped the San Antonio Spurs leave Little Caesars Arena with a win Monday.
The Spurs led by as many as 23 points in the second half and handed the Detroit Pistons their fourth straight loss, 109-99. San Antonio shot 69.6% in the second quarter and took a 10-point lead at halftime. It became a 20-point lead at the end of the third quarter, as the Pistons struggled to stop their penetration to the rim.
Josh Jackson led the Pistons with 15 points off of the bench and Jerami Grant scored 14. Dejounte Murray led the Spurs with 19 points.
The Pistons — who at 10-29 are now just one game back of Minnesota for the NBA’s worst record — shot just 7-for-25 from 3 (28%) and were uncharacteristically inaccurate at the line, making 14 of 25 free-throw attempts.
The Pistons host Toronto on Wednesday and will have up to 750 fans in attendance.
Grant leaves game after hard fall
Grant had a scary moment toward the end of the third quarter, when he was slow to get up after a hard landing on his hip. He got caught between two defenders during a drive to the rim and lost his balance in midair. The Pistons called a timeout and the medical staff tended to him.
He didn’t enter the game after the 3:12 mark of the third quarter. It’s unclear if he suffered an injury, as he was later seen on an exercise bike on the sideline. But his absence was felt. The Pistons were down by 14 when Grant went down, and trailed by 23 two minutes into the fourth quarter.
After the game, the team said Grant would’ve returned to action if the game weren’t already a blowout.
McGruder gets his first start
Rodney McGruder’s rise in the rotation has become a positive storyline for the Pistons this season, as he has emerged as one of Detroit’s steadiest wings. He only appeared in four games before February, and didn’t crack the rotation until injuries in the backcourt cleared the way for him. His 20-point, five-assist outing against the Raptors on March 4 appeared to be a breakthrough, and Monday marked his sixth straight appearance.
He started his first game of the season against the Spurs, with Wayne Ellington and Hamidou Diallo both nursing groin injuries. And he was once again one of Detroit’s most effective players. McGruder opened the game with a lob to Mason Plumlee for a dunk, and added a 3-pointer and transition layup during the first six minutes of the first quarter. He finished with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting in 25 minutes.
McGruder could log more starts, depending on how long Ellington and Diallo are out. He entered the game shooting 42.1% from 3, and made two of his four attempts Monday. He’s also a good playmaker — something coach Dwane Casey has praised him for. McGruder has filled in as a backup point guard and runs point during practices, Casey said.
Jackson’s outside shooting slump continues
Jackson has provided consistent scoring punch off the bench for the Pistons, and that continued Monday. His outside shooting was a strength early this season, but he has been in a slump during the past month.
Since Feb. 11, Jackson has made eight of his 43 3-point attempts, or 18.6%. He missed all three 3s Monday. While Casey expressed confidence Sunday that Jackson will get them to fall, it has been inopportune for a Pistons team light on shooting. After Svi Mykhailiuk’s departure, they have three consistent outside scoring threats in the rotation — Grant, Saddiq Bey and Ellington.