Detroit clinched a postseason berth for the fourth straight season with Friday’s 97-84 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Pistons also welcomed back coach Larry Brown, who missed the team’s previous 10 games while recovering from hip surgery.
“When you have 10 or 12 games left and hope to be ready for the playoffs, it’s great to be in situations like this,” Brown said.
The Pistons went 6-4 with assistant Gar Heard in charge during Brown’s absence. It was not enough to satisfy the demanding coach.
“I thought personally we had too much freedom,” Brown said. “We got out of understanding why we won a championship. I hope that with a lot of the things I’ve been watching from home, we can trust and understand that we can do better.”
Brown’s philosophy of team play was evident on Friday as Detroit placed six players in double figures and had 26 assists. Tayshaun Prince scored 23 points to lead the way.
“You don’t want to have to take any time off for health reasons, but it definitely gave him the opportunity to see us from home and visualize what to come back and help us do in practice,” Prince said. “You saw the movement of the ball tonight, getting the ball from one side to the other, that was one of the big keys tonight as far as getting off to a good start.”
While Detroit has Brown back, Toronto is feuding with Sam Mitchell. The rookie coach had earlier run-ins with Vince Carter, Rafer Alston and Eric Williams before his latest controversy involving swingman Jalen Rose.
Rose complained that certain players on Toronto were “not playing to win” after a loss at Orlando on Wednesday. Those comments did not go over well with his teammates or Mitchell.
“You can be frustrated, but there are appropriate ways to do things, and it just wasn’t appropriate to say the things he said about his teammates,” Mitchell said.
Rose stood by his remarks.
“I discussed how I felt about this team last game, hopefully it will get better,” he said. “We’ll just have to see.”
Toronto responded with a 119-107 victory at Charlotte on Friday that did little to quell the controversy. Mitchell was left addressing the fact that Rose and Alston appeared to shun each other on numerous possessions in the wake of Rose’s comments.
“We have to do a better job of putting our personal feelings aside when you step on the court,” Mitchell said. “We need to be professional and go play.”
Detroit has won at Toronto at least once each season since the Raptors joined the league in 1995. The Pistons, who are 14-4 all-time in Toronto, lost 101-89 at Air Canada Centre on Nov. 5.