With a sub-.500 record, the Detroit Pistons find themselves in an atypical position coming out of the All-Star break. There’s nothing unusual about the Minnesota Timberwolves having a losing record at All-Star weekend, though.
Under .500 at the break for the first time in nearly a decade, the struggling Pistons open the second half of the season Tuesday night against the lowly Timberwolves at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Detroit (18-33) has made eight straight playoff appearances, but that run appears to be in serious jeopardy with the Pistons currently seven games back of Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
A punchless offense has been one of the biggest reasons for the Pistons’ struggles. Detroit, which went into the All-Star break with a losing record for the first time since 2000-01, has been held to fewer than 100 points in 13 consecutive games and has topped the century mark just once in its last 28.
Ben Gordon(notes) has been a major disappointment for the offense since signing a free-agent contract in the offseason. He missed all eight of his shots and finished with only three points in Wednesday’s 103-97 loss to Sacramento - Detroit’s final game before the break - and is averaging 10.7 points on 35.6 percent shooting in his last six.
“Those are two guys that are outstanding scorers, and we’ve got to find them a way to get into our offensive flow,” Pistons coach John Kuester said.
Detroit also has to figure out a way to protect its home court. The Pistons, 4-11 at The Palace since Dec. 20, have lost five of six at home, with the only win coming over hapless New Jersey.
As bad as the season has been for the Detroit, things are even worse for the Timberwolves - although their struggles were more expected after finishing with 58 losses a year ago.
Minnesota (13-40) is in last place in the West and has a losing record at the break for the fifth straight season since being 27-27 at the 2005 All-Star game.
The Wolves appeared to be turning things around a week before the break, but couldn’t keep it going. Minnesota’s season-best four-game winning streak ended with a 119-97 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday, and it lost to Charlotte 93-92 a day later.
The offense led the way during the winning streak, averaging 112.3 points on 52.7 percent shooting, but the Wolves failed to reach the 100-point mark or shoot 50 percent in the last two.
Kevin Love(notes) has been in a bit of an offensive lull, and the team hopes he can come out of the break with more energy. The second-year center is averaging 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in his last three games after averaging 18.8 points and 11.3 boards in his previous four.
“If he’s not playing hard - and he’s that type of player - then things aren’t going to work out for him,” Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said of Love.