New Orleans (23-13) at Detroit (22-16)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 35° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Sat Jan 17, 2009
  • TV: FSD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Detroit Pistons looked great through a stretch without Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace. Since those two stars have returned, though, the Pistons have fallen apart.

Detroit will try to avoid its first five-game losing streak in nearly five years on Saturday when its hosts the New Orleans Hornets, who have been routinely dominated by the Pistons in recent years.

It looked like Detroit was in trouble when Hamilton went down in late December with a groin injury, and to compound its worries, Wallace hurt his foot three games later.

But the Pistons (22-16) won six of eight without Hamilton, a stretch that overlapped with three victories in four games with Wallace sidelined.

Wallace returned in a 17-point loss last Saturday at Utah, and Hamilton was back in the lineup during a stunning home loss to Charlotte on Tuesday. An overtime loss in Indiana came the next night, and Detroit hit rock bottom on Saturday in Oklahoma City, falling 89-79 to the league-worst Thunder.

Allen Iverson said it’s up to first-year coach Michael Curry to fix the Pistons’ problems.

“That’s not something that I can change or put a finger on. That’s something for the coach to figure out,” Iverson said. “That’s why he’s the coach—to figure out what we have to do to get a lot better on the offensive end. I think it will happen.

The Pistons haven’t dropped five in a row since a seven-game skid from Feb. 21-March 2, 2003.

Detroit’s biggest problem during the last week has been a lack of rebounding. The Pistons haven’t had an edge on the boards in any of their four consecutive losses, and were dominated 52-35 on the glass by the Thunder.

The Pistons are struggling to score as well. They’re averaging 93.6 points— second-worst in the Eastern Conference.

“There’s no excuse for it,” said Iverson, who averages a team-high 18.0 points. “I don’t see how you can have this many great scorers and be at the bottom of the scoring in the league.”

A visit from Chris Paul and the Hornets (23-13) might be just what Detroit needs to pick up a win. New Orleans has dropped three in a row and seven of eight games over the last four seasons to the Pistons, losing by an average of 14.3 points.

The Hornets have turned in some ugly shooting performances in those games. They’ve connected on just 36.9 percent from the field and 23.4 percent beyond the 3-point arc in dropping their last three to Detroit by 20.0 ppg.

Fittingly, New Orleans is coming off one of its worst shooting efforts of the season. The Hornets hit 37.3 percent of their shots Friday in Cleveland and lost 92-78 to the short-handed Cavaliers.

More concerning, according to coach Byron Scott, was his team’s lack of hustle.

“It is very frustrating, but I told the coaches that I’m not going to lose sleep over guys not giving it everything they’ve got every single night,” Scott said. “That’s out of my control. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

What New Orleans will have on Saturday that it’s been missing lately against the Pistons is David West.

The All-Star forward has missed three of the last four games between the two teams over the past two seasons. In the one game he did play on Dec. 5, 2007, West struggled mightily, going 3-for-15 and scoring nine points.

Paul has failed to reach double digits in assists four times in his last five games after having at least 10 in 25 of his first 31 contests.

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Saturday, Jan 17