Pistons-Bobcats Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 11, 2012
A winless road trip that's included a pair of lopsided defeats has slowed the Detroit Pistons' momentum. Facing the woeful Charlotte Bobcats might help them get back in the groove. The Pistons will try to salvage the finale of their four-game trek by dealing the Bobcats a 14th consecutive defeat Thursday night. Detroit (21-36) had won three in a row and five of six before heading off to face a quartet of Southeast Division teams. The Pistons lost 101-96 to Atlanta in the opener Friday before falling by a combined 53 points to Miami and Orlando on back-to-back days. "We put that 4-20 start behind us and we have been playing good basketball since then. The past two games we have let our guard down and kind of forgotten what got us to this point," forward Charlie Villanueva said. Detroit hit a combined 38.9 percent from the field in those two defeats after shooting 52.1 percent over its previous four games. The Pistons trailed by as many as 23 points in the first half of Monday's 119-89 loss to the Magic. "It's very embarrassing," coach Lawrence Frank said. "I think it's everything. (Being) mentally (and) physically, prepared to compete in an NBA game ... But we've got to make a decision as a group, how we want to go forward. This is where character's revealed." The Pistons will try to move forward by collecting their fifth straight win over NBA-worst Charlotte (7-49). The Bobcats' current 13-game losing streak is tied for the second-longest in franchise history behind the 16-game slide they endured Jan. 16-Feb. 15. The past three defeats were by an average of 20.4 points, though they were more competitive in Cleveland on Tuesday as point guard D.J. Augustin returned after missing three games with a sore knee. The Bobcats led early in the fourth quarter before falling 103-90. Gerald Henderson scored a team-best 21 points after averaging 11.4 on 36.4 percent shooting in the first five games this month, and Augustin had 16 points and 11 assists. "It was cool to have D.J. back. We really missed him sometimes because he sets us up," Henderson said. "He had 11 assists tonight and he scored the ball well, too. It was good to have him back, especially on the offensive end." Kemba Walker added 20 points off the bench after starting the previous three games in Augustin's place. The rookie is averaging 17.0 points and 5.6 assists in his last five. Starting forward Byron Mullens was held scoreless, four days after finishing with a career-high 31 in a loss at Milwaukee. He's averaged 19.0 points in two career starts against Detroit. The Pistons easily won the first two meetings this season - by a combined 32 points - before needing to rally from a late eight-point deficit to force overtime in a 110-107 home victory over Charlotte on March 31. Rodney Stuckey scored 29 in his lone start versus the Bobcats this season, but the status of Detroit's leading scorer is uncertain after he banged knees with an Orlando player in the first half Monday and did not return.
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