DETROIT (AP) — Mason Plumlee was closing in on his first career triple-double. He realizes individual stats can be a distraction during a game, but this was a special circumstance.
“I think you know when you have nine of something,” he said. “I was close enough, I had to tune in.”
Plumlee finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Detroit Pistons spoiled Stan Van Gundy’s return to Motown, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 123-112 on Sunday night. Plumlee’s final rebound came with about 2:30 remaining, sealing his milestone, and the Pistons have now won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Van Gundy was the coach and president of basketball operations for the Pistons from 2014-18. He’s coaching the Pelicans now, and Detroit became the latest team to blitz New Orleans from 3-point range.
“We did not defend well enough or play hard enough at the defensive end to deserve to win,” Van Gundy said.
The Pistons had six players with at least 15 points, and Detroit went 17 of 35 from beyond the arc — 13 of 21 during the final three quarters.
Josh Jackson led Detroit with 21 points, and Svi Mykhailiuk added 18.
The Pelicans also lost their previous two games, allowing 25 3-pointers in each of those.
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram scored 26 points each for the Pelicans, but New Orleans couldn’t hold on after an impressive start. The Pelicans shot 79% from the field in a 40-point first quarter.
The Pelicans led by 10 after the first, but they scored just 22 points in the second and trailed by two at halftime. Detroit was up 97-89 after three.
“Offensively, we weren’t making shots, and I think it trickled down to the defense a little bit,” Ingram said. “Whenever they had momentum, they kept pushing.”
Mykhailiuk made a couple 3s to give the Pistons a 108-97 lead in the fourth. Detroit has won three of four.
“You just feel it coming together — the trust, the belief in the system,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “We still have work to do to get better.”
Van Gundy indicated it might be time to consider altering his rotation, but he doesn’t seem sure who he can turn to for defensive improvement.
“I don’t know how many of our guys really have a defensive mentality,” he said.
Plumlee, who missed the previous two games with elbow issues, became the first Pistons center with a triple-double since Greg Monroe on Nov. 7, 2012.
At 30 years, 346 days old, Plumlee was the oldest center to achieve his first triple-double since Patrick Ewing did it at 33 years, 258 days old in 1996, according to STATS.
Pelicans: New Orleans allowed 129 and 143 points in its previous two games. … The Pelicans shot 35% for the final three quarters.
Pistons: Plumlee became the fourth Pistons center with a triple-double since 1965, joining Monroe, Ben Wallace and Bob Lanier. … Delon Wright scored 17 points, Saddiq Bey added 16 and Jerami Grant contributed 15.
BACK IN TOWN
Van Gundy, who still has family in Michigan, had plenty of nice things to say about the area before the game.
“We loved Detroit — loved the time living here,” he said. “Regrets, from my end, that we didn’t win enough games and didn’t get the job done that we were hired to do. You feel bad about that, because not only loving the area, but I had great respect for our ownership group.”
The Pistons had 34 assists on 45 made field goals. Bey and Wright had six assists apiece.
Pelicans: Visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. The Pelicans beat Memphis 118-109 on Feb. 6.
Pistons: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. The teams split two games last season.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister