D-Leaguer looks set to fill in for Pistons' Johnson

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Stanley Johnson shoots over the Cavaliers' Channing Frye during the Pistons' win Monday night.

The injury bug bites again.

The Pistons, already limited because of a recent spate of injuries, got another big blow Tuesday.

Rookie Stanley Johnson, who suffered a shoulder sprain in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s victory over the Cavaliers, will miss some time, coach Stan Van Gundy said on WJR on Tuesday night.

“We’re going to have to play really well right now,” Van Gundy said. “We’re very thin up front: Anthony Tolliver out 2-4 weeks; Stanley Johnson probably out a couple of weeks with the shoulder injury.

“We came out of the game last night with Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris as our only forwards to play the 3 and 4 spots.”

The Pistons reportedly were set to add forward Justin Harper from the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League. Harper is a 6-foot-10 outside-shooting big man shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers.

Van Gundy didn’t mention Harper by name, but alluded to the impending promotion.

“We’re going to make a pickup of a D-League call-up to add somebody else, and we’ll have to play some time with three guards in the lineup,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll have to adjust a little bit, and we’re going to need a lot of guys to play well.”

Johnson joins an already short bench following last week’s rescinded trade with the Rockets. The Pistons also are missing guards Jodie Meeks (toe fracture) and Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle).

“It happens like that,” forward Marcus Morris said. “Unfortunately, those guys are down, but we have other guys.”

Backup center Joel Anthony, whom the Rockets sent to the 76ers in the Donatas Motiejunas trade, is set to return to the Pistons and could be available tonight against Philadelphia.

The injuries likely will translate into more minutes for Reggie Bullock and Darrun Hilliard, who were mired in obscurity on the bench two weeks ago.

“We’re getting thin at the forward spot and we’ll have to play some with three guards,” Van Gundy said Monday. “It’s not ideal and not exactly what we would want, but that’s where we are. It’s getting tough right now.”

Seeking victory jolt

The Pistons are hoping their victory Monday wakes them out of their fog of inconsistency.

They had lost five straight, but are the only team in the NBA with three wins over the respective conference leaders, the Cavaliers and Warriors.

“Leaving out this locker room, I have a great feeling in my stomach that we can turn it around,” Morris said.

Magic helps Flint

Pistons officials announced that Magic Johnson is joining the #FlintNOW campaign and will serve on a community advisory board, focusing on educational efforts to benefit schools and families in Flint.

Pistons vs. 76ers

Tip-off: 7:30 Wednesday, The Palace

TV/radio: FSD/WMGC

Outlook: The Sixers will be on the second game of a back-to-back and the Pistons are coming off one of their best wins of the season, at Cleveland. The Pistons again will be shorthanded, with Stanley Johnson (shoulder sprain) and Anthony Tolliver (knee sprain) out.