(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs are at the midway point of their annual Rodeo Road Trip and will pay a visit to the currently dysfunctional Detroit Pistons Monday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Pistons will have a new face running the X's and O's, as they fired head coach Maurice Cheeks Sunday. Cheeks was in his first season at the helm and compiled a 21-29 record.
"This was a difficult decision for the organization to make but we needed to make a change," Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said in a statement. "We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work."
Pistons owner Tom Gores chimed in as well.
"Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change," Gores said. "We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress. The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around."
Pistons assistant John Loyer is expected to take over on an interim basis.
San Antonio hasn't had to worry about a coaching change in quite some time because Gregg Popovich is a future Hall of Famer and proven champion.
The Spurs, who will travel nearly 9,000 miles on the sojourn, are 3-1 so far on the trip and recorded a 104-100 victory at Charlotte Saturday night. Patty Mills came out of nowhere to score a season-high 32 points off the bench and made 10-of-13 shots.
Tim Duncan recorded 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Nando De Colo added 15 points for San Antonio, which has won four of five overall since losing three straight and bounced back from Thursday's loss at Brooklyn.
"I thought all the young guys that don't play much and played they way they did was really impressive," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "They were outtalented and outsized, but they gave everything they could and did a lot of great things out on the court. And of course Patty Mills was great, he was unconscious tonight."
Mills had 18 points in the fourth quarter, when the Spurs used a 12-4 run to put the game out of reach and improved to 19-6 outside the Alamo City. Tony Parker had nine points and five assists in the win.
The Spurs still have Boston, the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland and Phoenix to visit on the Rodeo junket. They won't return home until Feb. 26 versus Monday's opponent, the Pistons.
In injury news for San Antonio, guard Marco Belinelli (back) and center Tiago Splitter (calf) are listed as questionable against Detroit.
Detroit is starting to play better and faces a stiff challenge with the Spurs in town. The Pistons have won two in a row to start a five-game homestand and four straight at The Palace after Saturday's 126-109 pounding of Denver.
Brandon Jennings scored a season-high 35 points and dished out 12 assists, while Josh Smith totaled 30 points, 10 rebounds, a season-best eight assists to go with four steals. Andre Drummond, who leads the Eastern Conference with 38 doubles-doubles, notched 18 points and 15 boards for the Pistons.
"I think we matched the intensity that they were putting forth on our defensive end and we were aggressive, grabbing offensive rebounds and attacking the basket," Drummond said.
The Pistons are 4-2 in their last six games overall and the 126 points scored were the highest since a 136-120 win over the Nuggets in March 2008. They scored 65 points in the first half, one night after netting 67 versus Brooklyn over the first 24 minutes. Detroit won every quarter versus Denver.
Detroit, which scored 25 points off 20 Denver turnovers, is 11-15 at home and will also entertain Cleveland and Charlotte.
"We're winning basketball games at home," Smith said. "Early on, we struggled. It feels good to be able to get that monkey off our back and keep winning consistent games at home."
It will be an arduous task to keep winning at The Palace versus the Spurs, who split a pair of meetings with Detroit last season. San Antonio has won six of the last eight contests with the Pistons, but has lost six of its last 10 trips to Auburn Hills, MI.