Pistons’ Ellenson, Marjanovic earn favorable reviews
Memphis — The new hybrid starting lineup worked well for the Pistons, in its first incarnation, in Friday’s victory over the Houston Rockets.
Sunday’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies brought a new version: Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer starting together at the forward spots. Marcus Morris had started all 78 games he played this season — missing only one game — but was slated to play only in an emergency.
The plan also was to rest Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and give more minutes to Darrun Hilliard.
It’s the rotation Van Gundy settled on as a result of wanting to get more minutes for rookie Henry Ellenson and Boban Marjanovic. Ellenson started against the Rockets but came off the bench on Sunday, with Van Gundy looking to get Ellenson and Marjanovic about 20-24 minutes each in the final four games.
Van Gundy’s assessment of Ellenson’s first start was mostly positive, as he notched 15 points and 11 rebounds and had some critical plays in the comeback win.
“I love the fact that he rebounded the ball and that he shot the ball without hesitation — though he didn’t shoot it very well,” Van Gundy said. “When he was open, he shot the ball. We’ve had a problem with some of guys passing shots and taking it into the defense.
“Henry took the shots he should have taken and made a couple nice plays off the dribble. He played pretty well.”
Defensively, Ellenson had some lapses, but his offensive game was solid and he wasn’t shy about getting his shot attempts up.
The other featured player was backup center Marjanovic, who had a career-high 27 points and dominated the backup Rockets big men. It’s a different sample than normal, but Van Gundy was optimistic about the strides that his third center has made, given more playing time against the regulars.
“He played pretty well. He’s gotten a lot better laterally; he works every single day and (strength coaches) Jordan (Sabourin) and Louis (Thompson) have done a really good job with him,” Van Gundy said. “He does a lot of extra work on his own. A lot of guys want to come in and shoot and he understands that’s an area he has to work at. He works at it diligently and he was a lot better the other night covering ground.”
Pistons vs. Wizards
Tipoff: Monday, 8 p.m., The Palace of Auburn Hills
Outlook: With the Pistons eliminated from playoff contention, this marks their last game at The Palace. The Wizards (48-32) are locked into the No. 4 playoff seed in the East, so they may choose to rest some of their regular rotation players.