Auburn Hills — Stan Van Gundy wasn’t in a mood to accept accolades or too much positive talk after the Pistons’ 111-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
After they blew a 19-point lead and had to get some late heroics from Reggie Jackson to preserve the victory, Van Gundy was curt with his first couple of responses.
“We got the win,” he muttered.
“I don’t know if it ever helps to play poorly,” he followed on the next question.
It’s next-level stuff from Van Gundy, who is looking to establish a winning culture and not have their surprising 9-3 start implode on them with a couple of bad losses. He was a little more receptive following Saturday’s practice, looking to continue developing good practice habits and turn those into sustainable winning habits.
That includes not being satisfied with just getting the win; rather, it includes fixing mistakes — even in victories — and not being complacent with a hot start just 12 games into the season.
“You’ve got to keep doing those things. The danger is you just keep thinking winning happens, so you just show up, where early in the year, you were really focused and fighting hard,” Van Gundy said. “We have to understand what it is that’s gotten us here and what it will take to keep having success. It’s not simply showing up for the game.”
Besides Avery Bradley’s career with the Boston Celtics and Reggie Jackson’s stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder, not many of the current Pistons players have been on teams that have had sustained success in the regular season or long runs in the playoffs.
It’s a trap that Van Gundy and the veterans are looking to veer from with their early success, but it’s hard to get young players to believe that a win just isn’t good enough in and of itself, in a results-oriented league.
“It’s just staying focused and driven and being hungry all the time to want more and more,” Van Gundy said. “When you haven’t had huge amounts of success, a little bit of success like 12 games can go to your head a little bit. You have to understand that 12 games is not very much and that you need to keep pushing to have great success.”
After Sunday’s game, the Pistons will get more big tests on a three-game road trip: at Milwaukee, Indiana and Minnesota.
Stanley Johnson (hip flexor) and Jon Leuer (sprained left ankle) continue to work their way back from their respective injuries. Both have missed the last two games, but they’re inching back toward returning to action.
Leuer has been upgraded to questionable, while Johnson still is doubtful for Sunday’s game. Reggie Bullock likely would continue in the starting role, while Leuer could get back in the lineup.
Downtown Detroit will be abuzz with two big sporting events going on at the same time: the Lions facing the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field at 1 p.m. and the Pistons playing the Heat at 4 p.m. It’ll make for a lively atmosphere, but could create some gridlock ahead of the Pistons’ start and some parking headaches for those who don’t allot enough time.
Pistons vs. Heat
Tipoff: 4 p.m. Sunday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Outlook: The Pistons (9-3) have won four straight longest win streak since March 2016 and are looking for a sweep on their five-game homestand. The Heat (6-6) have won three of the last four as they finish their six-game road trip.