Before the All-Star break, Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera expressed confidence that a pair of trades have put his team in a good position.
The Grizzlies have found their stride lately with three straight wins, and two recently acquired players will try to help add to that run when they face their former Detroit Pistons teammates for the first time Tuesday night.
In his first press conference in Memphis since being introduced in November, Pera said last week that the deals that sent leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30 and three reserves to Cleveland on Jan. 22 were more than just getting the team under the luxury tax threshold.
"With the latest trades, the personnel moves, how the team is constructed, I think it has the potential to be the best Grizzlies team yet," Pera said. "I really like how the pieces now fit kind of the traditional inside-out game. I think if they jell, then hopefully this could be the best playoff run yet."
Former Pistons Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye were two players the Grizzlies (33-18) acquired in the three-team trade that featured Gay. Toronto sent point guard Jose Calderon to Detroit and forward Ed Davis to Memphis.
Prince, who was part of the Pistons' championship team in 2003-04 and played 10-plus seasons there, had 18 points and tied a franchise record by making all eight of his shots in Memphis' 105-88 win over Minnesota on Feb. 10. The forward, though, scored just seven points in a 108-101 victory against Sacramento last Tuesday.
Daye, selected No. 15 overall by Detroit in the 2009 draft, scored 16 points versus Minnesota and seven against the Kings.
Those games kicked off the Grizzlies' set of five straight matchups against sub-.500 teams, but the Pistons (21-33) have won three of four. Calderon scored a season-high 24 points and Will Bynum had 20 in a 96-85 home victory over Washington on Wednesday.
"I think there's chemistry now that we've played a couple games together," Bynum said. "We cause matchup problems for just about whatever team we are going to play, and it is going to continue to get better the more we play together. I'm loving this."
Greg Monroe matched a season high with 18 rebounds while recording his eighth consecutive double-double, the longest streak by a Pistons player since Grant Hill had 10 in a row March 1-17, 1996.
Monroe just missed his fourth straight double-double against the Grizzlies on Nov. 30, finishing with a team-best 17 points and nine rebounds in a 90-78 road loss.
Marc Gasol had 17 points and 11 boards, and Mike Conley also scored 17 points in the Grizzlies' sixth consecutive win in the series. Memphis has won in each of its last four visits to Detroit.
Grizzlies All-Star forward Zach Randolph has a combined 58 points and 30 rebounds in his last two games at The Palace of Auburn Hills. This time, he'll try to help Memphis avoid a season-high third consecutive road defeat.
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