With the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets each owning just seven victories, one will leave the other with the worst record in the NBA Wednesday night when they meet in Charlotte, N.C.
The Pistons have lost three consecutive games, while the Hornets have dropped five in a row.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey has tried to find winning lineup combinations in an effort to alter the negative results. For example, rookie Jalen Duren was moved into the role of starting center in place of Marvin Bagley III.
“He has improved quicker than we ever thought,” Casey said of Duren. “He picks things up quickly, and that’s helped him. He’s still not a finished product.”
Duren is averaging 6.6 points and 7.3 rebounds but tends to be a better fit with post player Isaiah Stewart, Casey said.
Bagley, who is averaging 11.4 points in his 16 outings, is trying to increase his production in a reserve role.
“Whatever decisions are made from the coaching staff, that’s out of my control,” Bagley said. “I just do what I’m supposed to do, try to help the team win and go out to be a good teammate.”
Regardless of Detroit’s combination of post players, the Pistons will have to contend with Charlotte big men Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards. The Hornets’ duo has combined for 18.5 points and 15.7 rebounds per game. Yet in a 131-113 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, 76ers center Joel Embiid racked up 53 points.
Offensively, the Charlotte players who have carried the biggest load are guards Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre Jr. Each has scored 20 or more points in eight consecutive games.
While Rozier and Oubre have created a lot of scoring, the Hornets have faltered at times in transition defense.
“We have to fix that,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “Transition defense takes less talent than any other phase of the game, and yet it’s a big part of winning.”
Clifford said, too, that the Hornets are fouling too much.
“Every time those guys go up to shoot and we slap down, it’s an awful play,” Clifford said. “It’s a terrible play. Fouling is ridiculous defense. … We’re not buying into that. Until we do, it’s going to be hard.”
Bojan Bogdanovic has led Detroit in scoring in three of the past four games, including a 38-point effort in Sunday’s 124-117 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
This week the Pistons learned that Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, is expected to undergo season-ending surgery. He has been out for more than a month with an injured left shin.
This will be Charlotte’s first home game since the death of former coach Paul Silas, who passed away Saturday at age 79.
–Field Level Media