It may not seem like much, but earning a third straight victory would be a major stride for a Detroit Pistons team concluding another disappointing season.
The Charlotte Bobcats are hoping to salvage some pride as well.
Detroit seeks an eighth victory in nine meetings with Charlotte, which looks to avoid a franchise-record 14th consecutive road loss in its final game away from home Friday night.
The Pistons (27-52) will take part in their fourth consecutive draft lottery, and it’s been widely rumored coach Lawrence Frank is on the hot seat. They’re not throwing in the towel just yet though, having won back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 8-9 after defeating Chicago 99-85 on Sunday and Cleveland 111-104 on Wednesday.
“These are the guys we’re building around, and we’ve got to fight for them,” said Frank, whose team’s only winning streak of at least three games was a four-game run Dec. 28-Jan. 4. “I have confidence in them.”
Drummond, a 36.5 percent free-throw shooter, went 9 of 17 from the line as Cleveland intentionally fouled him.
“I knew I needed to make them for us to win, so I just focused at the line,” Drummond said. “It gave me a chance to work on my free throws.”
Detroit has been working through plenty of struggles during a season that includes a 10-game losing streak. That skid came to an end with a 92-91 win March 23 over Charlotte (18-60), which owns the NBA’s worst record.
The Bobcats have scored fewer than 80 points twice during a three-game losing streak, including 94-75 at Memphis on Tuesday.
There’s also been rumors first-year coach Mike Dunlap could be let go due to a lack of progress after the team set a record for the lowest winning percentage in league history (.106) during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season.
Kemba Walker scored a team-high 19 points Tuesday for Charlotte, which is shooting 39.2 percent over its last four games and is simply hoping to finish the season on a high note.
“I just like the fact our guys are holding onto the rope and playing a good brand of basketball,” Dunlap said. “We just have to do a good job of coming down the back stretch and that’s kind of been the issue all along. But a lot of credit goes to the guys in the locker room coming in and playing this brand of basketball.”
Charlotte, averaging 87.5 points and shooting 41.4 percent during the 13-game road skid, finishes with three home games. It must split its last four to avoid winning fewer than 20 games in a full 82-game season for the first time since it went 18-64 in its inaugural campaign of 2004-05.
The Bobcats are 6-34 on the road, but they posted a 108-101 overtime victory at Detroit on Jan. 6 as Walker scored 20 points and Bismack Biyombo added a career-high 17 rebounds.
Since that victory, Charlotte has gone 0-23 on the road versus teams other than Orlando.