Murray leads Spurs to bounce-back win over Pistons
By DAVE HOGG
DETROIT (AP) Dejounte Murray had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead a balanced attack as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons 109-99 on Monday night.
The Spurs had lost three of four, including a 35-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
"I thought this was a nice bounce-back performance from our guys," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We came out and did the things we needed to do."
Detroit's leading scorer, Jeremi Grant, left the game in the third quarter after falling hard on his hip while trying to drive between Drew Eubanks and Rudy Gay.
"He's fine," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. "He probably could have come back and played if we had needed him, but I saw it as a good chance to get more minutes for our young guys."
Jakob Poeltl had 14 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, which had six players in double figures. Rookie guard Devin Vassell finished with 13 points in 21 minutes in his third game back from COVID-19.
"This has been a crazy rookie season, because we didn't have summer league and we aren't getting many practice days," Vassell said. "Then I was out with COVID, so I'm just trying to talk to everyone I can every day and learn as we go. Tonight was a good night."
Josh Jackson had 15 points for the Pistons, who have lost four straight, while Grant scored 14. With Wayne Ellington (groin) sidelined, the Pistons shot 28% (7 of 25) from the 3-point line.
"We need to hit more shots, but I don't think this loss came down to our offense," Jackson said. "We didn't play enough defense to win the game.
The Spurs shot 69.6% in the second quarter to build a 60-50 lead, then pulled away by as many as 14 early in the third quarter.
"You can't let a team come in and shoot 70% in the second quarter when we are trying to build our identity around defense," Casey said. "You need a lot of mental toughness to beat the Spurs. You can't get one stop and decide you can relax. You have to keep playing all 48 minutes and we didn't do that."
Dejounte Murray finished off a 35-point quarter for the Spurs with a long 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving San Antonio a 95-75 lead.
Spurs: San Antonio lost by 34 points (132-98) at Little Caesars Arena on their last visit - Dec. 1, 2020 - their worst margin of defeat against the Pistons. ... Poeltl's 12 rebounds matched a season-high.
Pistons: Rodney McGruder started at guard, his first NBA start since playing 51:16 for the Los Angeles Clippers in a 107-103 overtime victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the regular-season finale on Aug. 14, 2020. McGruder played just 16 minutes in the postseason for the Clippers.
Spurs: Visit the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
Pistons: Host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
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Updated March 15, 2021