The Detroit Pistons have struggled trying to win back-to-back games recently. Facing the Eastern Conference’s two weakest teams on consecutive nights may take care of that.
The Pistons return to the Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday to meet the injury-depleted Charlotte Bobcats
Detroit (20-12) had won five in row from Dec. 16-26, but have struggled since starting with a 151-145 triple-overtime loss to New York in Dec. 27. That began a three-game skid in which it lost four of six. That also comes despite outscoring its opposition over that span - the Pistons are scoring 102.8 points per game while allowing 102.5.
The Pistons are coming off Tuesday’s 98-89 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Sixers have the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 9-25 while the Bobcats (9-23) have the second worst.
Despite playing its fourth straight game without Chauncey Billups (strained right calf), Detroit shot a season-high 56.3 percent (40-of-71) from the field, and got a career-high 33 from Tayshaun Prince and 22 from Richard Hamilton.
“Once I knocked a couple down, I knew it was going to be that kind of night,” Prince said. “We’ve really been going to Rip a lot trying to put us over the hump, and it was time for me to get into it offensively and make some plays.”
Prince is averaging 19.0 points per in two games against the Bobcats this season. The Pistons posted a 104-95 home win on Nov. 24 behind 26 points from Hamilton and 19 points and nine rebounds from Rasheed Wallace.
Charlotte snapped a five-game skid against Detroit, and ended the Pistons’ eight-game winning streak overall with a 97-89 home victory on Dec. 3. The Bobcats’ bench, led by Sean May’s 17 points, outscored the Pistons’ reserves 46-14.
The Bobcats have not played since a 106-74 rout by Orlando on Friday. Charlotte shot just 29.1 percent (25-of-86) from the field - it’s second-worst performance of the season - while allowing Orlando to shoot 57.4 percent (39-of-68).
Charlotte trailed 56-50 at halftime, but shot 23.8 percent (10-of-42) en route to a 24-point second half.
“When you lose this badly, it is embarrassing,” said Matt Carroll, who led Charlotte with 19 points. “They’re beating us and kind of laughing at the end of the game, and that is embarrassing for any professional team.”
Charlotte was playing without Brevin Knight (torn abdominal muscle) and Gerald Wallace (separated shoulder). Neither will play Wednesday and will be joined on the sidelined by Melvin Ely, who strained his right calf in practice Monday and wasn’t able to practice Tuesday.
Ely hasn’t played much this season and has asked to be traded. With Emeka Okafor and May getting the bulk of the minutes, Ely is averaging 2.7 points and 1.5 rebounds and hasn’t gotten on the court in 12 games.
“You can walk around with a chip on your shoulder, but then bad things will happen,” Ely said.
The Bobcats are just 3-12 on the road this season.