The Charlotte Bobcats were perfect through the first half of their six-game road trip, but a pair of losses have them needing a victory in the finale to finish over .500.
As ugly as their record might be, the Detroit Pistons have been doing a pretty good job of defending their home court lately.
The Pistons look for a sixth win in eight games at The Palace on Wednesday night against the Bobcats, who have only left Auburn Hills happy twice in 11 visits.
Charlotte (20-27) lost its last nine road games before Larry Brown was fired Dec. 22, but quickly improved away from home under Paul Silas. The Bobcats won two of their next four on the road, took Philadelphia to overtime and nearly became the fourth team to win at Boston before losing by five.
That solid play continued at the start of a six-game road trip, where Charlotte shot 49.2 percent and averaged 109.7 points in wins at Sacramento, Phoenix and Golden State. But that offensive efficiency disappeared in the Bobcats’ last two stops, as they shot 40.3 percent in a 103-88 loss to the Clippers on Saturday and 35.6 percent while falling 83-78 at Utah on Monday.
“It’s still the little things,” Silas said. “I don’t want excuses … just admit, ‘Hey, I messed up coach, and that’s it.’ I can accept that. But we still, as I’ve been saying, have a long way to go, but we are getting there.”
Charlotte still leads Milwaukee by one-half game for the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed, but it’s going to need Gerald Wallace – an All-Star last season – to play better if it plans on hanging on to a playoff spot. Wallace has scored seven points in each of the Bobcats’ last three games, and he’s failed to score more than that in five of seven overall after averaging 16.2 points in his first 31 contests.
Detroit (17-31) has lost three straight and five of seven overall, but four of those came on the road – the latest a 124-106 loss at New York on Sunday. The score was tied at 91 after three quarters, but the Pistons fell apart on both ends in the fourth in dropping to 5-19 when they allow 100 points.
“It was important for us to defend tonight. We knew that. It seemed like we wanted to make it the OK Corral in regards to a shootout,” coach John Kuester said.
“They took advantage of our ability to not guard the ball the way we’re capable of.”
Detroit has been much better on its home floor, allowing 98.0 points per game while going 5-2 since Dec. 29.
A big reason for that success has been an ability to convert turnovers into points. The Pistons have averaged 19.3 points off their opponents’ miscues in that stretch, improving to 15-9 when scoring 15 or more points in that category.
They had 31 points off 23 Bobcats turnovers Dec. 27 on the road, but D.J. Augustin scored 27 points as Charlotte won 105-100 without an injured Wallace.
The Bobcats have won three of four in the series, but all of those came at home. Detroit has held Charlotte to an average of 85.7 points in the last six games at The Palace.
Ben Gordon has averaged 22.7 points in 10 games against the Bobcats since 2007-08 – his best against any Eastern opponent.
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