A win over a solid team would go a long way in helping the Detroit Pistons forget their recent struggles.
The Pistons can do just that if they find a way to play better at home against the New Orleans Hornets—owners of the Eastern Conference’s second-best record.
Detroit snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday with an 87-84 win over the Atlanta Hawks, who at 8-24 have the NBA’s second-worst record. Before Saturday’s contest, the Pistons had lost two straight and seven of nine.
Beating the Hornets would help the Pistons put those troubles behind them, but they’ve had problems at home against New Orleans. Detroit lost 81-80 on Nov. 23 at The Palace at Auburn Hills for its eighth loss in the last 11 meetings there with the Hornets.
Ben Wallace made two late free throws—his first points of the game—and had a block on the next possession, helping the Pistons squeak by the Hawks on Saturday. Richard Hamilton scored 28 points and Bob Sura added a season-high 13 for the Pistons.
New Orleans also beat Atlanta in its most recent game, as David Wesley hit five 3-pointers and scored a season-best 32 points in a 109-79 win on Friday.
It was the most dominant performance in weeks for the Hornets, who came in having lost four of five. They blew a 16-point, second-half lead in Cleveland on Tuesday.
Wesley was 13-of-18 from the field against Atlanta. In a loss to the Sacramento Kings last week, Wesley had his worst game of the season, missing his first nine shots and going 5-of-18.
“You never really know. You hope every night’s going to be like that or somewhere close to it,” he said after Friday’s win. “Sometimes you go through a game and you may have several good looks … and they don’t go in.
“Mechanically I’m confident. When I go back (to practice) and shoot, they go in.”
Hornets forward George Lynch, who has started every game in place of the injured Jamal Mashburn, missed Friday’s game because his 7-year-old son Jalen was hospitalized with an unspecified ailment. Stacy Augmon started in his place and scored eight points. Lynch’s status for Monday’s game is uncertain.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 27): Hornets - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, Central Division. Pistons - 3rd place, 3 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hornets - Davis, 23.6 ppg and 8.4 apg; Magloire, 9.4 rpg. Pistons - Billups, 18.6 ppg and 5.2 apg; Wallace, 12.9 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Hornets, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 23; Hornets, 81-80. At Auburn Hills, Mich., Davis’ dunk with 1.3 seconds left was the difference for New Orleans.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hornets - 9-7 on the road; Pistons - 9-5 at home.