Detroit Pistons

Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons

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AP

Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons

SACRAMENTO -- It’s time for some home cooking. The Sacramento Kings open a six-game homestand Monday night at Golden 1 Center. They’ll host a struggling Detroit Pistons team that has lost three straight and seven of their last eight.

The Kings battled the Utah Jazz all the way down the wire Saturday evening at Vivint Smart Home Arena, before falling in the final minute. Buddy Hield put up 20-plus points for his third straight game to lead Sacramento.

Detroit looked like a playoff team for much of the season and then the wheels fell off their bus. They have plenty of talent, but so far, they are struggling to find chemistry since acquiring All-Star Blake Griffin at the deadline.

BETTING LINE
Pistons by 3.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Skal Labissiere vs. Blake Griffin -- The Kings have struggled to contain Griffin throughout his career. Whether he starts or not, second-year big Skal Labissiere is likely to see plenty of time against the high-scoring power forward. Labissiere is averaging 11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 minutes a game in March. He needs to move his feet and avoid foul trouble against Griffin.

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 23-48, fourth place in Pacific

Pistons: 30-39, fourth place in Central

INJURY REPORT
Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Pistons: PG Reggie Jackson (ankle) out, PF Jon Leuer (ankle) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Decisions, Decisions -- With Bogdanovic out for the evening, Dave Joerger has a tough choice to make. Does he elevate Hield into the starting lineup and disrupt his bench unit? Or does he start veteran Garrett Temple alongside De’Aaron Fox. Hield has earned a look with the starters, but he’s on fire with the second team.

Keep Fighting -- Plenty of fans want the Kings to lay down and preserve their spot in the NBA’s Draft Lottery. The Kings are trying to build a winning culture around a group of young players. They are developing an identity as the season heads towards its conclusion and there is no reason to let up.

Shoot the 3-ball -- The Kings trail only the Golden State Warriors in 3-point percentage. They hit 14-of-21 from behind the arc against the Jazz, but that’s not enough. The goal should be 30 threes per game from here on out. The team has the shooters, they just need to hoist it up more often.

SERIES HISTORY
The Pistons lead the season series 1-0 and are looking for the sweep. Detroit holds a 134-119 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 37-26 edge during the Sacramento-era.

Clippers trade Blake Griffin to Pistons for three players, two picks

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USATSI

Clippers trade Blake Griffin to Pistons for three players, two picks

UPDATE (10:56pm PT on Monday): The Clippers and Pistons officially announced the deal that sends Blake Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to Detroit for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, a 2018 protected first-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick.

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UPDATE (3:33pm PT on Monday): The deal to send Blake Griffin to the Pistons is complete, according to multiple national reports.

The Clippers will receive a haul in return. Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick and a second-round pick will go to Los Angeles, according to ESPN.

Center Willie Reed and forward Brice Johnson are going with Griffin to Detroit, according to ESPN.

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The Clippers might finally be blowing up the roster and the first domino to fall could be Blake Griffin.

According to ESPN, the Clippers and Detroit Pistons are "in serious talks" regarding a deal for Blake Griffin.

Pistons guard Avery Bradley and forward Tobias Harris would likely be part of the package going back to the Clippers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Clippers are 25-24 and are currently in ninth place in the Western Confernece, one game behind the Nuggets.

Griffin is a five-time All-Star but hasn't been selected to the All-Star team in any of the last three seasons. Injuries have cost him significant portions of the past three years and he missed 14 games earlier this season with a spained left MCL.

In 35 games this season, Griffin is averaging 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

The 28-year-old Griffin is in the first year of a five-year, $173 million contract he signed last summer.

Warriors take bumpy road to perfection

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USATSI

Warriors take bumpy road to perfection

From the 24-0 record to start their 2015-16 season and the 73 wins that ended it, to the 16-1 postseason last June, the Warriors are making a habit of tearing pages from the record books.

Why let the absence of Stephen Curry stand in the way of them putting yet another historical mark on their checklist?

Kevin Durant, filling much of void left while Curry is on the sideline, and Draymond Green, shaking off a tender shoulder, were not about to squander such a special opportunity.

With Curry watching from home Friday night, the Warriors completed the first perfect six-game road trip in franchise history with a 102-98 vanquishing of the Pistons in Detroit.

In so doing the Warriors became the 11th NBA team to accomplish such a feat and the first since 2008-09, when Kobe Bryant and the Lakers did it (Jan. 30-Feb. 8, 2009) on their way to an NBA championship.

“A great finish to just an amazing trip,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr tells reporters in Detroit. “The last two games without Steph and, obviously, tonight against a team that’s given us some problems and beat us a few weeks ago...so (I’m) thrilled with the effort. And now we get to go home and we’re all very happy about that.”

There were many obstacles, yet the Warriors managed to overcome all of them.

The trip begins Nov. 29 in Los Angeles against the Lakers. With Durant returning after missing a week with a sprained left ankle and coming off a stunning home loss to Sacramento, the teams go into overtime, where Curry, nursing a bruise on his shooting hand, drags the Warriors to victory.

Two nights later, in Orlando, with Curry’s hand still aching and Andre Iguodala out with knee soreness, the Warriors submit a strong performance, ringing up 46 assists and shooting a season-high 62.5 percent to win by 21. Durant, however, is ejected in the fourth quarter.

Two nights later, in Miami, with Iguodala still unavailable and Shaun Livingston getting tossed in the second quarter, the Warriors roll to a 123-95 rout of the Heat.

The very next night, Monday in New Orleans, with Livingston serving a suspension and Zaza Pachulia out with a sore shoulder, the Warriors hang 36 assists on the Pelicans in a 125-115 win. For the second time in three games, Durant is tossed.

It’s bad enough that Pat McCaw, who started a week earlier against the Kings, sustains a concussion and bruise to his nose. What’s worse is Curry sustaining a fairly severe sprain of his right ankle. It’s the last thing the Warriors wanted to see. They quickly realize Curry would be out of the lineup for several weeks.

Yet his injury is, in a way, a blessing for a team that needs something to aid its focus. No one needs this more than Durant.

“I feel like we’re always focused, but it’s just a different style that we have to play,” Durant says after the win in Detroit. “Obviously not having Steph, the way he shoots the 3, the way he penetrates the way he creates for everybody on the floor, not having him on the floor is a little different and we definitely miss him.

“But we have to figure out ways to score the ball and find the open man. Defensively is also where we stepped it up a notch. We’re always a focused group, but we’re just trying to put our focus into different areas and different ways to play the game.”

Durant figures it out two days earlier, on Wednesday in Charlotte,

With Iguodala and Pachulia returning but Curry’s foot in a walking boot, McCaw in concussion protocol and Green out with a sore shoulder, Durant comes out on fire, posting his second triple-double: 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. The Warriors hold the Hornets to 35.1-percent shooting and win by 14.

Pachulia lasts five minutes before aggravating his shoulder and exiting.

But the Warriors have now won five in a row, with Iguodala and Curry and Green and Livingston and Pachulia and McCaw all missing at least one game -- and Durant getting thrown out of two.

The last game of the trip is the most daunting. It’s in Detroit, against the Pistons, who beat the Warriors on Oct. 29 in Oakland and appear destined for the playoffs. Green returns. Curry, Pachulia and McCaw do not.

No matter. Durant becomes the first Warrior with 35 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocks since blocks became an official statistic in 1973. Warriors win. History is made.

“Usually over a three-game road trip, the last game we’re a little sluggish and ready to get home,” Durant says. “We’ve been on the road for so long, and guys are ready to get home. I liked our focus level to start the game, for 48 minutes we were focused. We had a little slippage at the end, but it’s an erratic game and stuff like that can happen.

“We have to give (the Pistons) credit for staying in it,” he adds, “but I think our focus level was the main thing throughout this whole trip, especially with so much that went on. Just proud of the effort that we gave from the coaches all the way down to the players.”

Perfection in the face of competitive adversity speaks to the resiliency of this team. It does some of its best work at the toughest times. That’s how history happens.