Pistons look to go above .500 against Hawks

Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey has been trying to develop what he calls winning habits in his first season with the franchise. So far, he has seen mixed results.

The Pistons got off to a 13-7 start after 20 games. They’ve dropped to 15-15 through 30 games after losing in Charlotte 98-86 on Friday.

Detroit will try to get back above .500 with a home game against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon.

The Pistons staged a fourth-quarter rally and defeated Minnesota in overtime on Wednesday, but there was no carryover effect two nights later.

“We’re going to create winning habits. Some of the habits we have are inconsistent,” he said. “You play an excellent game against Minnesota and I thought we played well in spurts against Milwaukee (on Monday). Last night, I didn’t see any of that and we still had an opportunity to win in the fourth quarter.”

A slow pace led to his team shooting just 39 percent from the field against the Hornets while committing 16 turnovers.

“That’s the thing about the NBA,” he said. “If you want to be a winning team, you’ve got to do it on a nightly possession (by possession) basis.”

The Hawks have won just eight games, but two of them have come this week. They captured their third road victory on Friday when they topped the New York Knicks 114-107.

“With a young team, I’m sure they’re fighting consistency, too,” Casey said. “One thing you fight against them is how hard they play. They compete at a high level. They play fast, quick and look to shoot the 3.”

Among the Pistons’ issue is their lack of production from second-year swingman Luke Kennard.

Kennard scored 28 points two weeks ago at Philadelphia. He has scored a total of 22 points in the last five games as a starter while shooting 27.6 percent from the field.

Kennard went scoreless in 19 minutes at Charlotte.

“He’s been getting open looks,” Casey said. “You don’t ever want to talk about a guy’s shooting, but he hasn’t made shots. Most of his shots are open looks. He’s got to step into them, take them with conviction. He’s a shooter and shooters shouldn’t have a conscious. If you miss, next play.”

Atlanta’s defense tightened in the second half against the Knicks after it gave up 69 first-half points.

“Coach (Lloyd Pierce) was definitely getting into us,” rookie guard Trae Young said. “That’s not who we are. That’s not how we want to be represented. We want to be a team that comes out and competes on both ends. We didn’t make it tough for them in the first half.”

The Hawks showed a lot of balance on Friday, with seven players reaching double figures. Kent Bazemore led the way with 22 points and second-year forward John Collins had 17 points, 16 rebounds and four assists.

The Pistons won the first meeting 124-109 on Nov. 9 in Atlanta. Andre Drummond led Detroit with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Stanley Johnson contributed 22 points.