A healthy starting lineup hasn’t helped the Detroit Pistons recently, but injuries to two starters aren’t likely to improve their situation.
The two Detroit (22-17) starters were injured in the Pistons’ 91-85 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday. Iverson landed awkwardly after his layup was blocked in the third quarter and had to be helped off the court, although he returned in the fourth. His start for Monday is still questionable, however.
“I don’t think I’ve ever hit the floor that hard on my knee,” Iverson said. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow, but right now I have no idea how I’ll be.”
Prince, meanwhile, aggravated his strained groin Saturday and is questionable for Monday.
Staying healthy in the last month has been difficult for the Pistons, who have also lost Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton for some time. Detroit actually played well without Hamilton, winning six of eight earlier this month. That stretch overlapped with three victories in four games with Wallace sidelined.
Wallace has averaged 12.6 points in his first five games back while Hamilton has averaged 14.0 points in four games. Hamilton had a team-high 19 points on Friday.
Duplicating that success without Iverson and Prince might be more difficult, however. Iverson is averaging a team-leading 17.7 points and 5.4 assists while Prince is averaging 14.5 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Their support would especially be missed considering Detroit’s offensive struggles recently. Excluding a 110-106 overtime loss to the Pacers on Wednesday, the Pistons have averaged 81.0 points during their losing streak while shooting 41.6 percent.
“We’ve got to get back to what we were doing when we won all those games in a row,” Iverson said. “It doesn’t matter that we played hard tonight—we’re paid to play hard every night. It doesn’t make me happy when we play hard. Am I frustrated? Is there something beyond frustrated? That’s where I am.”
The Pistons are trying to avoid their first six-game losing streak since Feb. 3-17, 2004.
Detroit has a good chance to snap this slump when it faces the Grizzlies (11-28), who the Pistons have won six straight against.
Memphis comes in having lost five straight and 13 of its last 15 games after falling 101-91 on Friday to the Utah Jazz. Rookie O.J. Mayo scored 23 points and Marc Gasol added 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Grizzlies never led after the first quarter and trailed by as many as 20 before mounting a failed comeback attempt.
Rudy Gay, Memphis’s second-leading scorer at 18.5 points per game, was held to five points on 1-of-5 shooting after scoring only 10 in the previous game.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” Gasol said. “If somebody’s not frustrated, then they have a problem. Everybody should be frustrated.”
Darius Miles, who signed a 10-day contract last week with the Grizzlies, made his 10th appearance of the season Friday, placing the remaining $18 million of his salary back on Portland’s payroll.