Blake Griffin will play his first game in Los Angeles since he was traded to the Pistons last season when Detroit hits Tinseltown on Wednesday. Griffin has bigger concerns than the emotions he'll go through at Staples Center.
Detroit has been in a prolonged slide since early last month, losing 14 out of its last 18 games. The Pistons begin a four-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers and they'll also face Griffin's former team, the Clippers, during the weekend.
Griffin racked up 34 points and eight assists on Monday but it wasn't enough as the Pistons fell at home to San Antonio, 119-107.
"It will be cool to see people that I built relationships with for my nine years there but ultimately, we just need to get a win," Griffin said. "It's going to be our main focus going into each game and that game will be no different."
Role players around Griffin and center Andre Drummond haven't been productive enough. Point guard Reggie Jackson has struggled to fit into coach Dwane Casey's system, which has de-emphasized pick-and-rolls in favor of using Griffin as a playmaker. The second unit has consistently been outplayed since backup point guard Ish Smith suffered an adductor tear.
He'll miss his 17th straight game on Wednesday. Backup center Zaza Pachulia, a stabilizing force, sat out the last four games with a right leg contusion.
"We're a little out of sorts with Zaza out, with Ish out," Casey said. "We're trying to put a Band-Aid on it until they get back."
At 17-21, the Pistons are in danger of falling further out of the playoff picture as the halfway mark approaches.
"I didn't come here to hold serve or be out of the playoffs," said Casey, who earned Coach of the Year honors at Toronto last season but was fired after a playoff flop against Cleveland. "I came here to get us back into the playoffs, to build this program to where it was."
The Lakers (22-19) have suffered since superstar LeBron James suffered a groin injury against Golden State on Christmas Day. They are 2-5 with James out of the lineup, though one of the victories came at Dallas on Monday.
They trailed by eight points in the third, then went on a 20-6 run to seize control. Forward Brandon Ingram led the way in the 107-97 triumph with 29 points and six assists and point guard Lonzo Ball filled the stat sheet with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
"It's why I put so much responsibility on them," coach Luke Walton told ESPN and other media members. "That's what I believe that they're capable of doing. ... Their competitive spirit and the way on both ends they just fought and competed tonight. That's what they need to bring to the table every night, and when they do, they're really, really good at basketball."
The Lakers were coming off a 22-point loss to Minnesota.
"It starts with us," Ball said. "Especially when LeBron and 1/8point guard Rajon 3/8 Rondo are out. We're going to come out ready to play and get the whole team going. They'll feed off of that."
--Field Level Media