Leuer OK after car crash; Pistons' lineup shake up on hold
Auburn Hills — The changes to the starting lineup will have to wait a little bit longer.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was prepared to alter his starting five after three poor outings before Wednesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies at The Palace.
But forward Jon Leuer — slated to be inserted into the lineup and get his first start of the season — was involved in a car accident on Wednesday on the way to the morning shoot-around at the Pistons practice facility.
“He’s going to be able to play tonight, it looks like,” Van Gundy said at his pregame news conference, less than two hours before the opening tip. “He wasn’t at walkthrough today, nothing. He will play, so we’ll go back with the same guys.
“He would’ve started tonight but he got in a car wreck at about 45 mph and the airbags deployed and everything. He was pretty banged up.”
Leuer ended up playing 29 minutes against the Grizzlies, with 18 points and six rebounds.
Van Gundy said Leuer went to see a doctor after the incident and Leuer told the team training staff that he would like to come off the bench tonight.
The starting lineup of Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond will remain intact, at least for now.
Van Gundy wouldn’t say whether what the change in the lineup would have been, but presumably it would have been Leuer for either forward Tobias Harris or Marcus Morris.
Point guard Ish Smith said the players found out about the accident before the shoot-around — and an incident like that helped put everything they’re going through on the court into a proper context.
“Especially in this holiday season, it really put things into perspective,” Smith said. “More than anything, we’re happy he’s all right. He’s playing tonight — he’s a trouper.”
The Pistons (14-16) headed into Wednesday’s game on a three-game losing streak, prompting the proposed change in the starting group. But with the two reigning conference champions coming up on the schedule — Golden State on Friday and Cleveland on Monday — at The Palace, the time is nigh to pull out of the losing streak.
“We’ll just see how things go. It’s long-term things; it’s not a one-game thing,” Van Gundy said. “We don’t change the starting lineup after every loss or overly excited after every win.
“You evaluate things over time; I’m sure we’ll talk about it again tomorrow.”