Bobcats-Pistons Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 05, 2013
Detroit Pistons coach Lawrence Frank wasn't pleased with how his team faltered down the stretch in its last game, but the result was yet another win. Continued production from the Pistons' bench could continue that run, especially with the lowly Charlotte Bobcats in town. The Pistons go for their first five-game winning streak in three seasons - and their sixth consecutive victory over the Bobcats - on Sunday night. Up by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, Detroit was outscored 22-11 in the final period of Friday's 85-84 victory over Atlanta. Rookie Andre Drummond's blocked shot as time expired helped the Pistons improve to 4-0 on a homestand that ends Sunday. Detroit has won six of seven since a six-game slide and is now trying to win five straight for the first time since Dec. 4-12, 2009. The Pistons also have a chance for their first 6-0 surge at home since a seven-game stretch from March 14-April 4, 2008. Detroit won five in a row at home from Nov. 18-Dec. 3, but it followed that with a five-game skid at Auburn Hills. "Obviously, we're going to have to be sharper and better down the stretch,'' said Frank said. "We did a good job in the paint and a good job on the boards, but there is a lot to clean up after this one.'' While closing out teams is an obvious concern for a team that's been playing catch-up ever since its franchise-worst 0-8 start, Frank has to be thrilled with his bench production. Led by Will Bynum (97 points), Charlie Villanueva (78), Austin Daye (68) and Drummond (62), the Pistons' reserves are averaging 52.4 points over the last seven games. "We're playing really well as a unit right now,'' said Daye, who scored a season-best 20 on Friday. "I think the starters are feeding off of us, and we're feeding off of them.'' It didn't work that way for the Bobcats (8-24) in a 106-104 loss to Cleveland on Friday when their starters had two fewer points than former Piston Ben Gordon (27 points) and Ramon Sessions (20), who became the third set of teammates in franchise history to score 20 or more off the bench in a game. Gordon (13.4 points per game) and Sessions (14.4) give rookie coach Mike Dunlap one of the highest-scoring bench tandems in the league, but that doesn't address a defense giving up 103.8 points per contest. Charlotte is yielding a league-worst 53.6 first-half points per game after falling behind 62-48 at the break on Friday. "The lesson learned here is we can't come out flat as a tack and give up those kind of points early,'' said Dunlap, whose team failed to win consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 19-21 and has dropped 19 of 20. Detroit is hitting 46.2 percent from beyond the arc and outscoring its opponents by an average of 10.6 points in the first half its last seven contests. The Pistons led by at least 12 at the break in three of the four games against the Bobcats last season. The exception was a 110-107 overtime victory on March 31, when Detroit rallied from eight points down with three minutes left in regulation to improve to 11-3 at home in this series.
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