AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons have been ice cold against the Western Conference, winning just once in 12 games after losing, 112-84, in Sunday's matinee against the Memphis Grizzlies.
They've also been frigid at home through 18 games (6-12) and chilly in the fourth quarter of losses in recent weeks.
This lackluster performance, the Pistons' fifth straight home loss, couldn't be blamed on injuries -- though Rodney Stuckey missed his second straight game with a sore shoulder. So coach Maurice Cheeks had a talk with his team after the game and apologized to the media for the long wait.
"When you lose a game like that you have a conversation and it took a little longer than I expected," Cheeks said. "I was trying to get insight from them. We'll talk a little bit more tomorrow."
Greg Monroe, who scored 19 points and had eight rebounds, thought the meeting was productive.
"It was a dialogue from both sides," Monroe said. "It was something I think we want to keep in-house. Both sides spoke. I think it was needed the way we were going right now. Sometimes you have to talk about stuff. You get in and work on things, but sometimes you need to talk about it as a group."
After five days off, it was a poor effort in poor weather witnessed by a brave group announced at 14,134.
The Grizzlies (15-18) saw fit to not bring back coach Lionel Hollins after advancing to the Western Conference finals last season, losing to San Antonio. Under first-year coach David Joerger, Memphis, 41/2 games out of the eighth spot in the West, is trying to run more instead of being the grind-it-out, half-court offense under Hollins. It's a concept that is a work in progress with the injured Marc Gasol (MCL sprain) and former Michigan State star Zach Randolph being half-court players. Randolph finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds, Jon Leuer tied his season high off the bench with 23 points, and Ed Davis had 17 points and 11 rebounds in just 17 minutes off the bench.
"Shots were available, shots were there, we were moving the ball," said former Piston Tayshaun Prince, who finished with 15 points as five other Grizzlies scored in double figures. "It's always special playing against your former teammates."
The Pistons led 56-51 at halftime, but the ebb and flow of the game changed with 7:43 left in the third quarter when Andre Drummond (15 points, 14 rebounds) was called for his fourth foul with the Grizzlies ahead by a point. Drummond also picked up a technical foul on his way to the bench. Mike Miller made the free throw, Prince drained a jump shot, and the Grizzlies were on their way to a 71-64 lead on five straight points by point guard Mike Conley.
"I don't know if that was the reason, but after he got his fourth foul, they made shots and continued to make shots," Cheeks said. We didn't make any shots."
Drummond said: "It was in the heat of the moment."
The rest of the quarter was a study in frustration as Monroe was sent to the bench and the offense, which had erupted for 29 points in the second quarter, mustered only 11 in the third and fell behind, 79-67.
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