Van Gundy praises Pistons for season turnaround

Terry Foster
The Detroit News
Tom Gores cheers on his team in the fourth quarter.

Auburn Hills — Pistons owner Tom Gores walked past coach Stan Van Gundy, who was surrounded by a scrum of reporters, and reached over to give his man a little tap and exchange pleasantries.

Van Gundy has accomplished two things. Van Gundy the coach helped put the Pistons into playoff position following a 5-23 start. Van Gundy the team president hopes he set his team up for the future by trading for point guard Reggie Jackson, who made his Pistons debut Sunday afternoon during the Pistons' 106-89 victory over the Washington Wizards.

It was the Pistons' sixth win in their last nine games and placed within a game of a final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Van Gundy wasn't interested in patting himself on the back. Instead, he spread praise between general manager Jeff Bower, Gores and his players.

"I am proud of the players to get back to where we are from where we were," Van Gundy said. "The start of the season wore on everybody. It is not easy to turn it around the way they did.

"One of the challenges from my standpoint or Tom's standpoint is in terms of long term and short term. When things are going really well as a coach, you say you don't want to make a change, but you know we are not where we want to be eventually. So you want to make moves with your eye to the future. We think we can do both. We think we can stay in the race, but at the same time their bigger picture is let's look ahead."

Slam dunks

Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince dressed but did not play Sunday. He's expected to undergo an entire practice Monday and be ready for Tuesday's home game against Cleveland. One of the factors was the early start to Sunday's game. Prince did not arrive in time for Saturday's practice and the Pistons did not have an afternoon walk-through or practice Sunday.

"If it were a 7:30 game and we had a walk-through and could go over stuff, we would have used him," Van Gundy said. "I believe we would be putting him in a tough situation."

... Gores had a nice conversation with injured guard Brandon Jennings at the half. He appeared to give him words of encouragement before patting him on the back as Jennings went into the dressing room with trainer Arnie Kander, who hopes to bring him back from an Achilles injury.

... The Pistons have won 12 of their last 14 games against the Wizards and are 85-40 at home against them.