AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—With interim coach John Loyer hoarsely shouting instructions, Brandon Jennings and the Detroit Pistons ran away from the San Antonio Spurs in the third quarter.
Jennings finished with 21 points, and the Pistons beat San Antonio 109-100 on Monday night in Loyer’s first game at the helm.
Detroit abruptly fired Maurice Cheeks on Sunday after only 50 games as coach, but although they’ve been unimpressive for the most part this season, the Pistons have played better lately. The comfortable win over the Spurs was Detroit’s fifth in seven games.
“I told them it was going to be an emotional day,” Loyer said. “I told them I thought we can play, collectively, for longer periods of time better than we have.”
Rodney Stuckey scored 20 points for the Pistons, and Greg Monroe added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Marco Belinelli led the Spurs with 20 points.
Detroit pulled even with Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and the Pistons have shown flashes recently of the potential they thought they’d have this season.
Jennings has been terrific lately. After scoring 35 points with 12 assists Saturday against Denver, he orchestrated another strong offensive effort, adding six assists to his 21 points.
The Spurs, meanwhile, turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter, when Detroit pushed its lead from 11 to 20. San Antonio finished with 19 turnovers, giving the Pistons the help they would need.
“We lost the game because we probably played the worst defense we’ve played all season, especially in the first half,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t bring it mentally or physically, and the Pistons did.”
The Pistons went on a 12-2 run to take a 73-52 lead in the third quarter.
“I told the guys today, just when we were in the locker room, I’m so proud of them,” Loyer said.