Cold-shooting Pistons can't tame red-hot Grizzlies
Memphis, Tenn. — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy stood in a low crouch imploring his team to gut through the Memphis Grizzlies muscle and dominance on the boards.
"Keep working it, Blue," he said, clapping loudly. "Keep working it."
However, there was too much going wrong for the Pistons to overcome. In what has become a broken record, the Pistons played hard, stayed close but could not pull out victory. They fell to 3-7 on the season — 1-3 on this road trip — with a 95-88 loss to the Grizzlies Saturday night at the FedEx Forum.
Memphis (9-1) owns the best record in the NBA and extended its franchise-best home winning streak to 19 games.
The Pistons returned home for games Monday against the Orlando Magic and Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns.
Here are some of the broken-record happenings that kept the Pistons at bay.
• Andre Drummond could not stay in the game because of early foul trouble. He had two fouls within seven minutes of the start and recorded his fourth 37 seconds into the second half. Drummond finished with six points, 10 rebounds and five fouls, and allowed the Grizzlies big men to feast inside.
• Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could not shoot. He was 1-for-11 from the field, his only bucket coming on a layup.
• The Pistons made a little more than half their free throws (58.8 percent) and shot just 41.5 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Memphis outscored the Pistons by 17 points (27-10) at the free throw line and dominated the inside with Drummond on the bench.
Van Gundy regrets taking Drummond out of the game when he got his fourth foul early in the second half.
"The thing is (not having Drummond in the game) hurt us rebounding-wise," Van Gundy said. "That was the problem. Looking back, I should have let it go with four fouls and kept our matchups where they were."
Still the Pistons hung close in part because the Grizzlies (37.2 percent from the field) did not bring their A game and suffered through offensive lapses of their own. The Pistons led 56-55 with 8:16 remaining in the third quarter on a putback by Greg Monroe (16 points, 11 rebounds), but Memphis went on a 14-4 run and never trailed again.
Too often the Pistons lacked much movement offensively. They recorded just 15 assists.
With Drummond in foul trouble, Marc Gasol (23 points, eight rebounds) and Michigan State alumnus Zach Randolph (17 points, 22 rebounds) got plenty of freedom inside. Randolph recorded 13 of his team's 18 offensive rebounds, which set a personal best and franchise record.
"That was my main comment beforehand," said Josh Smith, who had to guard Randolph with Drummond on the bench. "I knew it was going to be a battle in a situation like that because he is so strong and he gets such good position."
Meanwhile key Pistons put up ugly numbers. Jennings was 6-of-16 from the field and D.J. Augustin was 3-for-10.
The Pistons held brief one-point leads in the third quarter, but their poor shooting proved deadly.
Kyle Singler's 3-point shooting kept the Pistons in the game, but it wasn't enough. He finished with 21 points after making five of seven. One of his misses with just over a minute left would have sliced the lead to two points.
"I thought the guys off the bench got us back in the game and played well," he said. "It wasn't a complete game for us. They are a good team, but we didn't play as well as we can."