SAN ANTONIO (AP) Pau Gasol signed with San Antonio because he believes the Spurs can win the NBA championship.
He knows the Spurs cannot achieve that goal if they keep playing lethargically at home, so the 16-year veteran helped change that.
Gasol had season highs with 21 points and six assists, and San Antonio snapped a three-game home losing streak with a 96-86 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
“I think he got tired of losing,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Gasol was 10 for 16 from the field as San Antonio snapped its longest home skid since dropping three straight in December 2014.
After winning their home opener against New Orleans, the Spurs lost to Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston. San Antonio went 40-1 last season to match the league record at home.
“You just can’t afford to lose at home, period,” Gasol said. “We just needed to snap out of that bad streak at home and start playing with some fire.”
Gasol, who also had nine rebounds and two blocked shots, had 13 points in the opening quarter. It was the most points he has scored in any half this season and was his second-highest total this year.
“(San Antonio was) definitely much more aggressive from the beginning,” Gasol said. “Established a good pace and we needed to as a team collectively to get off a good start because we haven’t done that lately at home.”
Tony Parker added seven points and four assists in 21 minutes after missing the previous three games with a sore right knee.
Andre Drummond matched his season high with 20 points and added 17 rebounds in Detroit’s third straight loss.
“I’m not upset at anybody,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I thought we played the game well. As a matter of fact, in terms of both defense and ball movement, putting both ends of the floor together, that’s one of our best games of the year.”
After trailing by 13 points in the fourth quarter, Detroit held San Antonio to two points in a four-minute span to pull within 89-84 with 2 minutes remaining. Leonard’s 3-pointer ended the drought and helped seal the victory.
“The team is still trying to improve,” Parker said. “We have a lot of guys to try and put in our team like Pau. Everybody is trying to find their role in this team. And so, we’ll be fine. It’s going to take some time.”
Pistons: Detroit is winless in five road games this season. … Former Spurs Aron Baynes, Beno Udrih and Boban Marjanovic are all reserves for the Pistons. Marjanovic did not play, but received a rousing ovation when he was shown on the video screen. A huge fan favorite during his one season in San Antonio, Marjanovic was showered with shouts of “Boban!” in the final minutes.
Spurs: Gasol’s previous season high was 20 points against Miami on Oct. 30. Aldridge did not play in that game for rest. … Spurs G Danny Green sat out for rest after playing 26 minutes in his season debut Wednesday. Green missed the team’s first six games with a strained left quadriceps. … The Spurs have yet to play a game with their projected starting five of Parker, Green, Aldridge, Gasol and Leonard. . San Antonio, which plays Saturday in Houston, is 3-1 in back-to-back games this season. The Spurs won both road games.
San Antonio has not lost more than three games in a row at home since 2002. Every other team in the league has lost at least five straight home games over that span.
GOT YOUR BACK
Leonard had his second-lowest point production of the season, shooting 6 for 14.
The 6-foot-7 forward has scored 30-plus points in four games after entering the season with four games of 30-plus in his career, including the playoffs.
Leonard scored 34 points in San Antonio’s 101-99 loss to Houston on Wednesday, attempting a career-high 26 shots.
“He shouldn’t need to get 30 to 34 every night,” Gasol said. “We have enough guys on this team, enough talent on this team that he shouldn’t have to have that responsibility or pressure.”
Pistons: At Denver on Saturday.
Spurs: At Houston on Saturday.