Pistons try to resurrect playoff hopes out West
The Detroit Pistons were making a push for their first playoff appearance in six years, but an offensive slump has virtually doomed their chances.
Avoiding franchise infamy may be one of the few things the Los Angeles Lakers have left to play for.
The two struggling squads meet Tuesday night (10 p.m. pregame, 10:30 tip-off on FOX Sports Detroit) in Los Angeles.
The Pistons (23-39) pulled within one game of eighth place in the Eastern Conference after an 18-10 run from Dec. 26-Feb. 22. They’ve since been overtaken by three teams during a six-game losing streak, averaging 95.2 points per 100 possessions compared to 106.5 in their previous 18 contests.
"What this team does is that if we miss shots, we get in a situation where we become stagnant," said Tayshaun Prince, who has averaged 6.3 points six games into his second stint with the team. " … That’s been the case in this losing streak. The quicker we can get out of those spells, the better it will be."
Poor shooting from Detroit’s starting guard tandem has been at the forefront of the club’s offensive struggles. Reggie Jackson has averaged 17.1 points in seven games since coming over from Oklahoma City, but he is shooting 37.7 percent — including 28.0 percent from beyond the arc while attempting 3.6 3-pointers per game.
Backcourt mate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has shot 27.7 percent over his last four and gone 1 for 18 from 3-point range.
The pair was limited to 11 second-half points on 4-for-18 shooting in a 108-101 home loss to Charlotte on Sunday.
The Lakers (16-46) have dropped five in a row and are an NBA-worst 4-21 since Jan. 11. Their winning percentage is on pace to be the worst in franchise history, established at .264 after going 19-53 in 1957-58, but they also need to win six of their final 11 home games to avoid setting a new low there for a second straight season.
Los Angeles went 14-27 at Staples Center in 2013-14.
Detroit has been held to 92.8 points per game while dropping eight of nine on the road.
Facing the Lakers could be a temporary fix for the Pistons’ backcourt given Los Angeles’ recent struggles against opposing guards. The Lakers surrendered 31 points to Monta Ellis in a 100-93 loss to Dallas on Sunday after he had shot 27.5 percent in his previous four games.
Los Angeles also let Charlotte and Miami’s starting backcourts combine for 87 points in losses on March 3 and 4.
The Lakers were 1 for 7 in the final 6:35 against the Mavericks, squandering a six-point lead. They have averaged 18.7 points on 35.4 percent shooting in the fourth quarter of their last three games.
"We have to slow down and take good shots," Wesley Johnson told the team’s official website. "We aren’t getting quality shots towards the end of the game."
Johnson has been one of the few bright spots lately for Los Angeles, shooting 54.1 percent over his last four.
Nick Young (13.4 ppg) likely will miss an eighth straight game with a sore left knee and his absence could continue for a while according to coach Byron Scott.
"He still has pain in there and some swelling," Scott said. "It’s not going down as quickly as we had anticipated, so we’re less optimistic about him coming back anytime soon."