Fri, 24 Mar 2023

Struggling Rockets, Pistons looking for progress

Field Level Media
28 Jan 2023, 09:40 GMT+10

The leading contenders for the top pick in this year's draft cross paths in Detroit on Saturday night.

It's the worst of the worst by NBA standards, as the last place team in the Western Conference visits the bottom feeder in the Eastern Conference. The Houston Rockets have lost 20 of their last22 games, while the Detroit Pistons have dropped seven of their last nine games.

In the Rockets' latest defeat, the Cleveland Cavaliers jumped to a 74-48 halftime lead en route to a 113-95 victory on Thursday. Guards Kevin Porter Jr. and Eric Gordon and forward Jae'Sean Tate were sidelined due to injuries. The Cavaliers -- who were missing All-Star starter Donovan Mitchell -- converted 22 Rockets turnovers into 40 points.

"They're one of the best defensive teams in the league," Houston coach Stephen Silas said. "So the fact that they forced 22 turnovers wasn't super surprising, going in knowing that we didn't have three of our main guys handling the basketball."

Everyone in the Rockets' starting five was age 22 or younger. They didn't hold up well in the second game of a back-to-back. Houston lost to Washington 108-103 on Wednesday.

Second-year guard Josh Christopher made his first start this season and the third of his career. He played a season-high 19 minutes and had seven points and no assists while committing two turnovers.

"I decided to go with Josh because he had been kind of in the rotation and I wanted to give him a good chance to get out there and get some minutes," Silas said. "It was an uncomfortable position at times for him, just having the ball in his hand."

Jalen Green, who reached the 40-point mark twice in the previous four games, was held to six points.

Silas will miss Saturday's game. He'll attend a memorial for his father, former NBA star player and coach Paul Silas, in Charlotte. John Lucas will coach the team in his absence.

"It's going to be emotional," Silas said. "There's not a playbook for grieving."

The Pistons are coming off a rare victory. They defeated Brooklyn on the road on Thursday, 130-122, as eight players reached double figures.

In their previous outing, Milwaukee scored 150 points against them, including 49 in the first quarter.

"We knew that wasn't us, how we came out," forward Saddiq Bey said of the Bucks game. "We had a good day of practice the next day, got into it, and competed. Played up and down. We knew we had to start out better than that and play better through all four quarters. We were ready to nip that one in the bud and keep going."

Detroit took control against the Nets with a 43-point third quarter, then held off Brooklyn's late charge.

"We had a big third quarter," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. "The third quarter was at one time our nemesis coming out of the locker room. I think we're graduating, we're growing into being a competitive team out of the locker room."

Casey inserted veteran guard Alec Burks into the starting lineup, and it helped Detroit get off to a better start.

"We have two rookies and two veterans, and that's kind of the thought process to mix those two up to give them some balance, to give them an anchor, so to speak," Casey said.

--Field Level Media

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