When they opened the season, the Detroit Pistons probably didn’t envision it would be almost two months before they would get three of their top players on the floor together again.
Although the returns of Richard Hamilton(notes), Tayshaun Prince(notes) and Ben Gordon(notes) couldn’t stop Detroit from matching its losing streak of the season, the Pistons will try to avoid dropping their eighth straight game Tuesday night when they face the visiting New York Knicks.
The Pistons (11-19), who also lost seven straight from Nov. 15-27, has had just two eight-game slides since January 1995. The most recent was from Feb. 8-25.
To get back in the win column for the first time since Dec. 12, Detroit hopes its second game with a healthy lineup will go better than the first.
On Sunday, Hamilton, Prince and Gordon played together for the first time since the season opener on Oct. 28, but the Pistons lost 102-95 at Toronto. The three combined for 39 points, but Hamilton and Gordon were 10 of 35 from the floor while Prince was 4 of 8.
Hamilton had missed 26 of the previous 28 games with a sore hamstring while Prince had been out since Oct. 31 with a sore back. Gordon came off the bench for his first minutes since Dec. 6 after being sidelined by a sore left ankle.
Pistons rookie head coach John Kuester realizes it will take some time for them to get into a rhythm.
“It’s an adjustment for those guys,” he said. “It is going to take some time. All of our guys are getting acclimated to them again. But it was refreshing to watch them play and see how they can compete.”
The trio gave a slight boost to a struggling offense that hasn’t reached 100 points in the last seven games, and has shot 35.2 percent in the last three.
Detroit was able to take some positives away from Sunday’s game, which came four days after being held to 64 points in a home defeat to the Raptors. The Pistons had lost the previous four by double-digit margins and they came back from 19 points down at the half.
“We had our chances tonight,” Gordon said. “With all the injuries and guys coming back, I still thought we had a chance to win the game.”
While the Knicks (11-19) are dealing with their own offensive struggles, they have put together a stingy defense. They held a 10th straight opponent to fewer than 100 points on Sunday - the first time since a 19-game run from Feb. 18-March 26, 2001 - but lost 95-88 to San Antonio.
It was the third straight game New York was held below 90 points. Still, New York averages 100.7 points.
“I didn’t think it was a problem about scoring,” David Lee(notes), who matched a season-high 28 points and had 10 rebounds, told the Knicks’ official Web site. “We just didn’t get enough stops and they executed well.”
With the loss, New York finished with a 3-2 homestand during which Lee averaged 21.0 points and 14.6 rebounds. The Knicks, who are beginning a three-game road trip, are 4-9 away from home.
New York has won two of its last three visits to the Palace of Auburn Hills after losing 10 straight.