The Detroit Pistons are heading downtown next season. At the moment, they're just headed downward.
The Pistons have lost four straight, including the first two games of a four-game homestand. They'll try to reverse their fortunes on Wednesday against another struggling team, the Miami Heat.
Prior to the skid, Detroit won its first five games at its current home, The Palace of Auburn Hills, which opened in 1988. Owner Tom Gores announced on Tuesday that the team will move next season into the new downtown Detroit arena that will also house the NHL's Detroit Red Wings.
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First, the Pistons (6-9) need to rebound — literally — from their current doldrums. They have been outrebounded in 11 of their first 15 games despite the presence of center Andre Drummond, who led the league in that category last season.
Boston and Houston grabbed key offensive rebounds in the late going of their last two defeats.
“It got better the last two games but it's still not good,” coach Stan Van Gundy said after his team fell to the Rockets 99-96 on Monday. “Look, I know they don't want to hear it right now. We're all upset about the loss but, especially on the boards and even getting back on transition, we're not competing as hard as we need to. In the half court, our defense is pretty good, but up and down the court we get lazy. And on the boards, we're just not competing hard enough. We're going to have to toughen up to be able to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Forwards Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris combined for just four rebounds against Houston and Morris admits he need to do more.
“(Drummond) grabs all the rebounds, so it's like the times where we think he's going to get it, we kind of pull out of there,” he said. “I consider myself a great rebounder, but he's also the best rebounder in the league, so at times we depend on him to get it because he normally does.”
Drummond will be matched up against another top young center in Hassan Whiteside. Miami (4-9) lost to lowly Philadelphia 101-94 on Monday despite a career-high 32 points from Whiteside.
The Heat shot 38.6 percent from the field and 22.6 percent from 3-point range.
“Offensively we were struggling,” Whiteside said to the media afterward. “We got some good looks, shots that guys normally make. They didn't drop. It happens.”
Miami is in the midst of a four-game road swing. It has played the last four games without second-year forward Justise Winslow, who has a sore left wrist.
Josh Richardson has been starting at small forward in his absence.
“I'm definitely making progress,” Winslow told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I think the last couple of days have really helped, just getting some of the soreness out of there, but it's still a little ways away. But it's definitely getting better.”
The teams split their four meetings last season. Drummond averaged 12.5 points, 15.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in those games, while Whiteside countered with 14.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.