Pistons win in Loyer's debut
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — With interim coach John Loyer hoarsely shouting instructions, Brandon Jennings and the Detroit Pistons ran away from the San Antonio Spurs in the third quarter.
Jennings finished with 21 points, and the Pistons beat San Antonio 109-100 on Monday night in Loyer's first game at the helm.
Detroit abruptly fired Maurice Cheeks on Sunday after only 50 games as coach, but although they've been unimpressive for the most part this season, the Pistons have played better lately. The comfortable win over the Spurs was Detroit's fifth in seven games.
"I told them it was going to be an emotional day," Loyer said. "I told them I thought we can play, collectively, for longer periods of time better than we have."
Rodney Stuckey scored 20 points for the Pistons, and Greg Monroe added 15 points and 10 rebounds. In 32 minutes off the bench, Kyle Singler scored 10 points on 3 of 11 shooting, made a pair of 3-pointers and pitched in six rebounds and two steals.
Marco Belinelli led the Spurs with 20 points.
Detroit pulled even with Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and the Pistons have shown flashes recently of the potential they thought they'd have this season. After signing Josh Smith and trading for Jennings in the offseason, Detroit is barely ahead of last season's pace in terms of wins and losses.
Jennings has been terrific lately, though. After scoring 35 points with 12 assists Saturday against Denver, he orchestrated another strong offensive effort Monday.
San Antonio, meanwhile, turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter, when Detroit pushed its lead from 11 to 20. The Spurs finished with 19 turnovers, giving the Pistons all the help they would need.
Warriors 123, 76ers 80
At Oakland, Calif., Marreese Speights scored a career-high 32 points to hand his former team a near-record setback, leading Golden State past woeful Philadelphia.
The 76ers, who lost 123-78 at the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night in a game it trailed by 56 points in the third quarter, nearly matched the NBA mark for the largest total margin of defeat in consecutive games. The Detroit Pistons lost by 95 points combined in back-to-back games in November 1966, according to STATS.
Michael Carter-Williams scored 24 points for a rebuilding 76ers team that never put up much of a fight. The two-game stretch was the worst in nearly 20 years for the 76ers, who lost back-to-back games in April 1994 by a combined 93 points.
No other team in NBA history has lost two straight games by at least 40 points each. Philadelphia has now done it twice.
Rockets 107, Timberwolves 89
At Minneapolis, Dwight Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds, and the surging Houston Rockets used a fourth-quarter push to hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves for their sixth consecutive victory.
Chandler Parsons had 20 points and James Harden scored 19 for the Rockets, who have won six straight for the first time since taking seven in a row from Jan. 13-23, 2012.
Back after missing one game with a bruised left quadriceps, Kevin Love led Minnesota with 31 points and 10 rebounds. Chase Budinger had 15 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost four straight and six of seven.
Pacers 119, Nuggets 80
At Indianapolis, David West scored 25 points and Roy Hibbert added 14 as the Indiana Pacers routed the short-handed Denver Nuggets.
Indiana snapped a five-game skid in the series, beating the Nuggets for the first time since a 31-point blowout in November 2010. The Pacers (40-11) still have the NBA's best record, the league's best home record (25-2) and now lead two-time defending champion Miami by four games in the Eastern Conference.
Raptors 108, Pelicans 101
At Toronto, Kyle Lowry had 19 points and 12 assists, Patrick Patterson scored a season-high 22 and the Toronto Raptors beat the New Orleans Pelicans.
DeMar DeRozan also had 22 points, Terrence Ross added 14 and Tyler Hansbrough scored 12 for Toronto, which has won five consecutive meetings and seven of eight against New Orleans. The first-place Raptors moved three games ahead of Brooklyn in the Atlantic Division by winning for the ninth time in 11 home games.
Celtics 102, Bucks 86
At Milwaukee, Jeff Green scored 29 points and Kelly Olynyk added 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Boston Celtics pulled away from the Milwaukee Bucks in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics used a 12-4 run to start the final quarter to break open what had been a tight game. Green had seven points during the spurt and 11 overall in the quarter, while Olynyk scored 10 after Boston entered the fourth clinging to a 70-68 lead.
Jared Sullinger added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Boston. Brandon Knight had 22 points for Milwaukee, which also got 17 points from Gary Neal and 16 points from John Henson before he left late in the game with an ankle injury.