Pistons top 76ers for 11th win in last 13 games
Auburn Hills — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was emphatic and direct in his anger as he bellowed "Timeout!" to the official, unhappy with his team's effort to start the third quarter.
A 24-point lead had been cut to 14, and he could see the warning signs all around. Sloppy play, a little fatigue, and his Pistons team playing down to the competition, the miserable Philadelphia 76ers.
Before long, Anthony Tolliver thrust his arms down three times in joyous agreement after his reverse layup was followed up by Kyle Singler stealing the ensuing inbounds pass and launching a corner 3-pointer that got the Palace crowd to its feet to end the third, stretching the lead back to 19.
The Pistons jumped on the 76ers early and despite slipping occasionally into cruise control avenged their overtime December loss with a 107-89 win at The Palace Saturday.
The win was their 11th in 13 games, coming on the heels of a franchise-tying seven-game road winning streak that will be put to the test Monday.
The headliners closed out matters Friday in Indiana, but the unheralded role players did the honors Saturday.
The hard-to-impress Van Gundy is pleased with how his young team has found its way through a challenging portion of the schedule, winning six of eight games in a crowded stretch.
"We're still searching for consistency and we have to get better defensively," he said. "But that was eight games in 12 days. A really difficult stretch. I went down the bench at the end of the game and Brandon (Jennings) just said he was beat. It's a long stretch and our guys have hung in there."
Tolliver played like a man on a 10-day contract desperate to stay in The Show. He was living in the passing lanes, chasing down loose balls and diving on the floor.
His 16 points and six rebounds had a tangible effect, but it was his energy seemed to carry the Pistons when they began to lag.
"We were playing decent but we weren't playing with a lot of energy," Tolliver said. "It didn't matter if we had a lot of energy or didn't, that's what I'm gonna do. Play hard and see what happens."
Drummond missed an uncontested layup when he should've dunked it, one of his 11 misses in 15 tries, while Greg Monroe shot just four for 11 from the field with 12 points. But Drummond grabbed 15 rebounds and Monroe 13, while the Pistons were a plus-19 with Monroe on the floor.
Singler's best contribution was setting his feet and launching from the 3-point line. He made three in the first quarter on his way to making six on the night, and his best outing in quite a while with a game-high 20 points.
"Kyle was on fire. He was great. He's been shooting the ball lately," Van Gundy said. "I have a lot of confidence in him, he's playing really well."
Singler was joined by the other unsung starter, second-year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who made his first five shots on the way to a 17-point outing — two performances that were welcomed considering the Pistons will need all hands on deck Monday in Atlanta against the NBA's hottest team.
The Pistons didn't mind launching, hitting 15 3-pointers at a 43 percent clip. Neither did the 76ers, although they made just 7 of 28.
The 76ers posed a serious threat — not from a talent standpoint but stylistically. They play fast and free, and with the luxury of low expectations.
Michael Carter-Williams led the 76ers with 15 points and six assists, while backup center Henry Sims scored 12.
The 76ers actually shot better than the Pistons from the field (46 percent to 43), especially in the second half as they tried to keep toe game competitive.
The game was essentially over in the opening minutes, when the Pistons treated the 76ers with the appropriate respect.
They hit their first six shots, as Jennings (10 points, six assists) made three of them and fed Singler for three assists in the first quarter, and the Pistons led 50-29 with 3:40 left in the first half.
"He (Jennings) got off to a really quick start and really didn't have it after all he was doing," Van Gundy said. "He said he was (tired)."