Spurs still seeking identity as Pistons come to town

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The beat goes on for the San Antonio Spurs, who through a third of the season have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA with 30-point losses, 30-point wins and comebacks both successful and coming up just short.

The Spurs have won back-to-back games only once since starting the season 3-0 — a pair of overtime victories the first week of December — and have alternated wins and losses for the past eight games.

On the heels of a 102-98 setback to the host Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, the Spurs will again look to avoid back-to-back losses when they host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday in the opener of a three-game homestand.

San Antonio scored the game’s final 13 points against the Mavericks, but Derrick White missed a 3-point shot with six seconds left, and Dallas corralled the rebound and held on.

The Mavericks led by just five points heading to the fourth quarter, and they all but put the game away by making 7 of 9 3-point shots to start the period.

“They had their little barrage there when they made six in a row, and that was the game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game.

DeMar DeRozan paced the Spurs with 21 points, while Rudy Gay had 18, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 17 and White hit for 10. Gay also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. However, it’s hard to take advantage of all the contributions when the defense can’t make stops.

“It’s tough to beat anybody that way,” DeRozan told the San Antonio Express News after the Mavericks’ fourth-quarter 3-point barrage. “Whether you’re up or down, when a team hits that many threes in a row, that’s a big swing.”

The Pistons fly to South Texas after a dominating 132-102 win over the Washington Wizards on Thursday that snapped a five-game losing streak.

Blake Griffin led Detroit with a season-high 11 rebounds to go with 14 points, and Andre Drummond added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Pistons were without guard Reggie Jackson (who has a back injury) and Luke Kennard (knee), while Griffin, Bruce Brown and Derrick Rose played through nagging ailments.

“We did all the little things right,” Griffin said. “We obviously weren’t in a good spot with a five-game losing streak, but we just focused on tonight and making sure we played our game.”

Brown returned to the lineup after missing a game with a sore calf, and he finished with 12 points.

“Had a lot of energy coming off the bench, it gave us a spark off the bench,” Brown said. “It’s good to be back.”

Most of the Pistons’ starters were able to rest after the third quarter, with Griffin sitting for the final 12 minutes. Reserve Christian Wood finished with a team-high 22 points.

The Pistons announced before the Thursday game that Kennard would miss at least two weeks with knee soreness.

Detroit begins a season-high, six-game road trip with the Saturday game in the Alamo City.

In the first matchup between the two teams this year on Dec. 1 in Detroit, the Spurs absorbed a 132-98 loss. San Antonio still owns a 58-35 all-time edge on the Pistons, including a 33-13 advantage at home.

–Field Level Media

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