November 26, 2014

Doc Rivers harps on his best players to continue shooting in big moments no matter the struggles they might be enduring at the time, something that has helped the Los Angeles Clippers' offense stay consistent.

What's improved drastically over the last 2 1/2 weeks is their defensive efficiency, and suddenly they've begun to click.

The Detroit Pistons believe they're just tapping into their potential, and they'll look to snap a nine-game losing streak in the series as the Clippers conclude their five-game trip Monday night.

Blake Griffin had some early misses in the fourth-quarter Saturday as Brooklyn trimmed an 18-point deficit down to two, but he hit a pair of big jumpers in the final minute as Los Angeles (14-10) held on for a 105-100 victory.

The Clippers improved to 3-1 on their trip as Griffin and J.J. Redick finished with 21 points apiece. Chris Paul had 15 and 14 assists.

"We're going to our sets down the stretch," Paul said. "Me and Blake worked our two-man game to perfection and that's something we've got to keep working on. It's trust, too. Two guys on you, you give it up and trust that another guy is going to make the right play."

Los Angeles is playing better on the other end of the floor, too. It allowed 103.7 points per game during a 7-8 start, but is giving up an average of 96.0 during its current 7-2 run.

Opponents are shooting 41.7 percent in that stretch and have scored fewer than 100 points five times. The Clippers have been nearly identical offensively, scoring 102.7 points per game through their first 15 and 102.0 over the last nine.

"Our defense has really improved, and if we keep on this track, we're going to be where we think we should be," Rivers said. "Our offense is good and our offense hasn't scratched anywhere where we should go. I know we're in the top three or four but to me, we're a way better offensive team than we've played. But if we keep playing defense, it will make us a better offensive team."

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy hasn't had much to complain about lately. Detroit has won six of eight, and it would have been seven had it not been for Matt Barnes' halfcourt heave that gave Memphis a win Wednesday.

Reggie Jackson had 21 points and Ersan Ilyasova added 20 against Indiana in Saturday's 118-96 victory, the second straight for the Pistons (14-11), who were playing their seventh game in nine days.

''I think that was the first game we've had this year where everyone played well,'' Van Gundy said. ''We've played some good games, but (Saturday) was really about the whole team. That's not something I've been able to say before this season.''

The Pistons didn't have many of those games through a six-year playoff drought, a stretch during which they haven't finished better than last season's 32-50 mark. Jackson believes they're on the right track now, though.

"I think we're still trying to figure it out, still have a long way to go, but we're piecing it together day by day," Jackson said. "Just figuring each other out and getting more continuity with each other and finding ways to help get each other easy shots."

Detroit has lost all nine meetings since last beating the Clippers on Nov. 12, 2010.

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