GAMEDAY AT A GLANCE
Spurs (23-17) vs. Detroit Pistons (17-20)
When, where: Monday, 6 p.m., Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Last season: Series tied 1-1
All-time series record: Spurs lead 56-34
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Pistons 93, Spurs 79, Dec. 30, 2017, Detroit
Spurs' last game: Beat Memphis Grizzlies 108-88, Saturday, AT&T Center
Pistons' last game: Lost to Utah Jazz 110-105, Saturday, Detroit
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 8-2, won four
Pistons' last 10 games/streak: 3-7, lost one
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Forward Rudy Gay (sprained left wrist), out; Chimezie Metu (G League assignment), out; forward Ben Moore (G League assignment); Dejounte Murray (torn right anterior cruciate ligament), out; Lonnie Walker IV (G League assignment), out.
Pistons' injury/inactive report: Forward Henry Ellenson (left ankle sprain), out; forward Jon Leuer (right knee soreness), probable; center Zaza Pachulia (right lower leg contusion), out; guard Ish Smith (right abductor tear), out.
Notable: Spurs guard Derrick White has scored at least 19 points and shot over 70 percent in each of the team's last three games. He is the only player in Spurs history to have 19+ points in three consecutive games while shooting over 70 percent . . . After playing in Detroit on Monday night, the Silver and Black end their two-game road trip against Memphis on Wednesday. San Antonio plays Oklahoma City, one of the best teams in the Western Conference, in its next home game Thursday night. The Spurs and Thunder square off again Saturday in OKC . . . The Spurs are the only NBA team with an all-time winning record against every team in the league . . . Spurs guard Bryn Forbes has made 86 three-pointers this season, the second most through 40 games in franchise history . . . Danny Green nailed 95 threes in the first 40 games of the 2014-15 season, when he set the franchise record.
Brimming with confidence after winning four consecutive games and 12 of their last 15, the Spurs are in the midst of a turnaround that has them rising in the NBA’s ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Heading into the halfway point of the season, the Silver and Black (23-17) are six games over .500 for the first time since last season. That’s not bad for a team that was being written off after dropping to 11-14 after a road loss to the Lakers on Dec. 4.
After 40 games, the Spurs are sixth in the West standings, just percentage points behind No. 5 Houston, and trail first-place Denver by only 4½ games.
As it turns out – and with apologies to Mark Twain – reports of the Spurs’ demise were greatly exaggerated. Described as “defensively challenged” by coach Gregg Popovich as they struggled in the first 25 games of the season, the Silver and Black finally started slowing down opponents with some consistency.
“We’re playing better defensively, finding our stride, which is good,” forward LaMarcus Aldridge said Saturday night after the Spurs’ 108-88 home victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Silver and Black reach the midway point of the season Monday night on the road, playing the Detroit Pistons (17-20) in their 41st game. The meeting will the first of the season between the teams.
San Antonio will be without starting forward Rudy Gay, who is sidelined with a sprained left wrist.
Aldridge cited several factors for the Spurs’ improvement, with defense ranking at the top of the list.
“It’s definitely playing better defense,” he said. “Having a better rhythm offensively, learning how to play with each other better. Each game we get together with this new group, it gets better and better. It’s about being better defensively, but also having better chemistry on the offensive end of the floor.”
Asked he’s confident that Silver and Black can carry over the success they’ve had at home to road games, Aldridge said: “Yeah, we have to. To be one of the elite teams in the league, you’ve got to take it on the road. We’ve gotten better the last couple of trips. We’ve just have to keep being better every trip.”
The Spurs are 17-5 at home and 6-12 on the road this season. San Antonio went an NBA-record 20 consecutive seasons with a winning road record before going 14-27 last year.
Center Jakob Poeltl, who came to San Antonio with DeMar DeRozan in Toronto’s trade for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, likes the way the Silver and Black are coming together.
“There’s just a really good vibe here that we have going here between players, coaches, (front) office, really, whoever,” he Poeltl said. “There’s a family vide here that I really enjoy. That’s a positive.”
Reflected on the progress the Spurs have made since the season’s opening tipoff.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “It’s been a fun process. There have been some downs along the way where we didn’t play great basketball, where we had to figure some things out. But I think we’re on a really good way. There are some things that we did figure out that really made us a better basketball team on offense and on defense.
“Things like that are always fun, when you make progress as a team and also individually. That’s really what I think gets us going, when you see that progress on the court and see how we’ve developed as a team.
After playing in Detroit on Monday night, the Silver and Black end their two-game road trip against Memphis on Wednesday. San Antonio plays Oklahoma City, one of the best teams in the Western Conference, in its next home game Thursday night. The Spurs and Thunder square off again Saturday in OKC.