Pistons open at home vs. Houston

The Detroit Pistons wrapped up their preseason last week with an

impressive win over Atlanta.

Now, the slate is wiped clean.

Detroit hosts the Houston Rockets in Wednesday night’s season

opener, which the Pistons hope will be the start of a season that

returns them to relevance in the Eastern Conference. Detroit

started 4-20 in last year’s lockout-shortened season but went 21-21

after that. The Pistons are hoping to make a run at a playoff berth

this season behind young big man Greg Monroe.

”We obviously have a lot of work to do,” coach Lawrence Frank

said. ”You always have to be real, you can’t get a false sense of

what it is and we have a lot of work to do.”

That comment came after a 104-88 win over the Hawks in the

preseason finale, a game that will be pretty well forgotten by the

time the Pistons and Rockets finish up Wednesday night. Frank is in

his second season as Detroit’s coach. He had a more normal

preseason this time around, with no labor dispute to shake up the

league.

”What I’m pleased about is that I like our spirit, and I like

our group,” Frank said. ”I like the fact that our guys support

each other, and the fact that our guys know that we have a lot of

things to work on to get better, and they’re willing to do

it.”

First-round draft pick Andre Drummond, taken by the Pistons to

help support Monroe around the basket, had 13 points and 10

rebounds in that last exhibition game, playing extended minutes

with the starters.

”We play well together,” Monroe said. ”As we get more

comfortable playing with each other, I think we will make a good

pair.”

Point guard Brandon Knight showed promise last season as a

rookie, and he’ll face an interesting matchup right from the start

against Houston’s Jeremy Lin. The Rockets also acquired James

Harden from Oklahoma City recently after the Thunder were unable to

work out a contract extension with the NBA Sixth Man of the

Year.

Monroe enters his third season looking like a potential star. He

averaged 15.4 points per game in 2011-12 and is already a smart,

polished offensive player.

Rodney Stuckey can provide scoring punch from the backcourt, and

Tayshaun Prince is the last remaining on-court link to Detroit’s

championship team of 2004.

The Pistons haven’t made the playoffs since 2009.

”We have a long way to go,” Monroe said. ”I definitely think

we are a good basketball team. I don’t think we’ve reached our full

potential yet, and there are some places we can get better. … We

need to focus on one game at a time instead of thinking about the

long term or making predictions.”