Preview: Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond square off as Heat visit Pistons

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Time: Pregame coverage begins at 3:30 p.m.

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The Detroit Pistons can complete a sweep of their five-game homestand by defeating the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon. Coach Stan Van Gundy doubts that will happen if his team repeats its last performance.

The Pistons saw a 19-point lead evaporate before a pair of Reggie Jackson 3-pointers in the final minute allowed them to escape with a 111-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Van Gundy was disgusted that the lowly Hawks scored 63 second-half points while his team committed 11 turnovers after the break.

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“Our turnovers are creeping up and our defense is not as good,” Van Gundy said. “It’s not the way you want to be trending but we got the win. If you’re a mature team, you don’t have to take a loss to refocus you. But we’re looking like that’s the only thing that’s going to refocus us right now.”

Detroit’s 9-3 record is second only to Boston’s 11-2 mark in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons have also beaten Milwaukee, Sacramento and Indiana during their current streak.

Shooting guard Avery Bradley believes the team learned a lesson on Friday.

“The important thing for us is not getting comfortable,” he said. “We got comfortable in the third quarter. I felt like they came out and jumped on us. We tried to retaliate. For us to be able to fight back from adversity and stick together as a team, it shows a lot about us.”

Center Andre Drummond (14.2 points, 15.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists) delivered another strong performance against the Hawks with 16 points, 20 rebounds and a career-high seven assists. The NBA’s leading rebounder has recorded at least 12 rebounds in every game this season, becoming just the third player (Moses Malone, Kevin Love) since the 1978-79 season to achieve that feat.

The assists are a product of Drummond handling the ball at the elbow and in the post much more frequently.

“He has the ball a lot,” Van Gundy said. “That decision-making will just get better. He had seven assists and six turnovers. You’re putting a guy in a totally new role of handling the ball out there. He’s got to make a lot of decisions from a totally different place. It’s just going to take some time.”

Drummond will be matched up against another prolific rebounder in Heat center Hassan Whiteside (15.3 points, 13.1 rebounds), who is coming off a 20-rebound game of his own. He also made three blocks and three steals in Miami’s 84-74 win at Utah on Friday.

“Hassan’s eight-point game is one of the most inspiring games he’s had in a Miami Heat uniform,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He really anchored our defense. Guys were making inspiring plays because of what they saw him doing. It was great to see. It’s not one of those boxscores from a point standpoint that would jump off the page but his impact was incredible.”

The Heat are wrapping up a six-game road swing. They are 3-2 on the trip, losing to Denver and Golden State while defeating the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix and Utah.

“We talked about this road trip, like all other long ones, it’s an opportunity for you to develop your competitive character,” Spoelstra said. “We got knocked in the jaw that first night in Denver but we continued to plug away and stay connected. You can turn those painful times into something you can grow from. But the road trip’s not over.”

Pistons power forward Jon Leuer is questionable to play while small forward Stanley Johnson is doubtful.

RWC News Preview: Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond square off as Heat visit Pistons  RWC News Preview: Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond square off as Heat visit Pistons

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Reppig Ethrofeno
RWC Sports Reporter

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