Pistons pledge to go into All-Star break on uptick

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Milwaukee — It’s like the Thursday before spring break. One more day before some cherished and overdue time away from work.

The Pistons have one game left before the All-Star break and an extended weekend — some decided between sunny, exotic locales and others just going back to their hometowns and getting some much-needed relaxation.

The problem is looking ahead too quickly.

After all, there is one more day left on the work schedule. The Pistons finish off the first part of their schedule with a matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night at The Palace. The Pistons (26-30) had a lackluster outing on Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks, but for some, the focus shifted to Wednesday instead of the extended, five-day break looming afterwards.

“We have to show a lot of maturity. We know everybody’s looking forward to that break,” forward Marcus Morris said Monday night. “We have to show a lot of maturity and get that win, going out on a high note into the All-Star break.

“We have to be professionals and finish it out.”

Before Monday’s 102-89 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Pistons were riding a high of winning five of their previous seven games, moving within three games of .500 and tying for the No. 7 spot in the East.

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Things were trending up after the win over the Toronto Raptors in the final minute and they were looking to enter the break with some momentum. All of that broke up with the loss to the Bucks, with lackluster energy and a horrible second quarter.

Now, they have to make sure they don’t get a clunker of an effort against the Mavericks (22-33), who have been surging.

Morris said he was looking forward to returning to his hometown of Philadelphia for a few days and Andre Drummond was looking to relax. It’s a different scene for Drummond, who was selected to his first All-Star Game last season Drummond could be in consideration for a reserve All-Star spot, as Cavaliers big man Kevin Love, who was selected by the coaches as a backup, has an injury and won’t be able to play.

Ellenson's transition

The Pistons made their first trip this season to Milwaukee, where rookie Henry Ellenson played his only year in college, at Marquette University. Of course, coach Stan Van Gundy was asked about Ellenson and his role in adjusting to the NBA.

He’s averaging 18.4 and 9.4 rebounds in 13 games with the Grand Rapids Drive, where he’s played about the same number of games as with the Pistons, with much more production (14 games, 1.5 points, 0.9 rebounds).

It’s been an odd transition for Ellenson, who’s been back and forth with the Drive, but Van Gundy said it’s part of the process of helping him improve as a rookie.

“He’s handled it really well and he understands it. We talked about it when he first came in as a possibility,” Van Gundy said. “He enjoys getting the chance to play basketball. The season is long and it’s a lot longer when all you do is practice and work out before games and never get to play.

“He’s taken good advantage of it and understands the purpose of it. He’s approached it the right way and he’s enjoyed it.”


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

Pistons vs. Mavericks

Tip-off: 7:30 Wednesday, The Palace of Auburn Hills

TV/radio: FSD/105.1 FM

Outlook: The Mavs (22-33) have bounced back after a slow start, winning six of their last nine games. Yogi Ferrell is averaging 15.2 points and 4.9 assists in nine games since signing with the Mavs from the D-League.