By RAUL DOMINGUEZ
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tre Jones had 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame injuries to their two leading scorers to beat the Detroit Pistons 121-109 on Friday night, snapping a three-game skid.
Spurs forward Keldon Johnson did not return after injuring his left hamstring with four minutes left in the first half. Guard Devin Vassell was inactive with a knee injury.
“I feel like we had to grind that one out a little bit more,” Jones said. “It was hectic there for a little bit, but we had to come together with the next man up mentality to pull off a big for us to start off the new year.”
Despite those absences, the Spurs still managed to extend their lead to double figures in the third quarter thanks to a collective effort.
Romeo Langford added 15 points, Malaki Brannan had 14 and Jakob Poeltl had 11 points and 16 rebounds as San Antonio won for the first time since Dec. 29.
Brannan had seven points in the final 5:19, including a 3-pointer with 2:24 remaining after Detroit closed to 112-104.
“When Malaki made the big one down the stretch, that sealed the game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “He stepped right up. Short clock, and he knocked it down. I thought that was pretty good on his part.”
Coming off a 122-119 victory at defending NBA champion Golden State on Wednesday night, Detroit trailed throughout in a battle between two of league’s worst records.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 points and Jaden Ivey added 20 points for the Pistons.
“We didn’t dictate the ball at the start of the first half,” Ivey said. “Feel like it comes early, early in the game, you’ve got to get in a rhythm defensively. Just the first half we had some lapses that made them more comfortable late game. That’s on us to figure out how to put us in better position defensively. That hurt us the whole game.”
Jones scored 12 points in the first half, all in the paint while shooting 6 for 9 from the field in setting an early tone. He was 11 for 18 from the field in finishing a point shy of matching his career high.
Jones added three assists for San Antonio, who had 27 as a team.
Pistons: Saddiq Bey remained on the court holding his jersey over his face as the Spurs ran a play with nine minutes left in the game after taking a hard screen. Bey rose to run up the court after San Antonio failed to score. He remained in the game, scoring 10 points in 25 minutes. … Detroit is 6-18 on the road this season. The Pistons were 10-31 away from home last season. … Bogdanovic was 2 for 7 on 3-pointers, surpassing Baron Davis in career 3s. Bogdanovic is 57th in league history with 1,333 3-pointers and Davis is 58th with 1,332.
Spurs: Johnson entered the game averaging a team-high 21.6 points, followed by Vassell at 19.4. Tre Jones is third in scoring at 12.8. Johnson finished with eight points in 12 minutes. … F Isaiah Roby started the second half in place of Johnson. Roby averaged 8 minutes while playing in 11 of the Spurs’ 14 games in December. … Jones reached 500 career assists in his third season and first as a starter. Tony Parker, Alvin Robertson, Johnny Moore, Johnny Dawkins, Willie Anderson are the only players in franchise history to reach 500 assists quicker.
WHO IS YELLING?
Johnson may have injured his hamstring, but his vocal cords are sound.
Johnson was screaming in celebration from the locker room as the game ended and only got louder as his teammates entered.
“Trigger Tre! Trigger Tre!” Johnson screamed.
The origin of the nickname is unknown to Jones.
“I don’t know, you have got to ask Keldon about that one,” Jones said, chuckling. “He yells a lot of crazy things.”
Pistons: Host Philadelphia on Sunday.
Spurs: Host Boston on Saturday.
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