The last week must have seemed like a whirlwind for the Detroit Pistons as they appeared to have upgraded their roster exponentially and potentially end their playoff drought, but will now have to fight harder to just stay in playoff contention after losing five-of-their last six games.
Detroit made two moves prior to the trade deadline last Thursday, acquiring Tobias Harris from the Orlando Magic and Donatas Motiejunas along with Marcus Thornton from the Houston Rockets. However, the Pistons voided the deal with the Rockets due to concerns over Motiejunas’ health yesterday.
The voiding of the trade means that Detroit will get back Joel Anthony from the Philadelphia 76ers and also their 2016 first round pick that the Pistons sent to Houston. The Rockets also don’t get the rights to 2011 draft pick Chukwudiebere Maduabum, and the Sixers don’t receive a 2017 second round choice.
The Pistons (28-29) are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race and sit just two games behind Charlotte and Chicago for the final playoff spot. But Detroit, which is just 3-7 in their last 10 games, is also just one and a half games ahead of 10th-place Washington, two and a half ahead of Orlando, and four games ahead of 12th-place Milwaukee.
Detroit got a much-needed victory and snapped its five-game losing streak on Monday with a 96-88 victory over Cleveland as Reggie Jackson led six players in double-figures with 23 points, on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 19, and Andre Drummond contributed 16, points along with 15 boards for his 48th double-double, which ties his total from last year. Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris each tallied 14 points, while Stanley Johnson had 10 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of action off the bench.
“It had been a long time since we got a win — coming up on three weeks — so we definitely needed it,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You’ve seen it all year: We’re capable of beating anybody and we’re capable of losing to anybody. The guys felt good about themselves tonight, and I think everyone played well defensively the whole game.”
Motiejunas, who has missed the last 20 games due to a back injury, was expected to provide depth to the Pistons’ frontcourt, while Thornton was expected to provide much-needed scoring off the bench from the wing position. The voiding of the trade hurts the Pistons even more now that Anthony Tolliver is expected to be out for two to four weeks with a sprained right knee, according to MLive.
Detroit dressed just 10 players for Monday’s game against Cleveland.
Tolliver, who averages 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19.8 minutes a game, was injured when he collided with teammate Andre Drummond during Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. While the loss of Tolliver’s production may not seem like a big deal, he provided depth and his ability to stretch the floor due to his shooting prowess hurts.
To make matters worse, Johnson sprained his right shoulder careening off of Channing Frye’s screen in the fourth quarter. Johnson — who will be re-evaluated today — joins reserve point guard Spencer Dinwiddie (sprained ankle), shooting guard Jodie Meeks (broken foot) and Tolliver on the walking wounded listed.
Reggie Bullock will likely replace Johnson in the role of Pistons’ sixth man. The 24-year old has only appeared in 19 games, averaging 0.3 points and 0.4 rebounds in 4.3 minutes per game. He has made just 1-of-19 shots from the field, and is 1-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Detroit has an open roster spot, and needs a frontcourt player as Anthony and Aron Baynes are the only bigs who are healthy in addition to Drummond. Morris and Harris also can play the power forward position. Andrea Bargnani, JJ Hickson, and Chris Copeland are among players who were recently released and fits the bill, though the Vertical’s Shams Charania tweeted that the Pistons plan to sign power forward Justin Harper to a 10-day contract.
The Detroit Pistons plan to sign forward Justin Harper of the Los Angeles D-Fenders to a 10-day contract, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 23, 2016
Harper, a 6-foot-10 stretch-four, has appeared in 36 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League. The 26-year old averaged 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field along with 40 percent from the three-point line. Harper has NBA experience, playing 14 games for the Orlando Magic under Van Gundy during the 2011-14 season. He was with the Brooklyn Nets during the preseason, and played with the Pistons’ summer league team.
[Photo by Tony Dejak/Associated Press]