Road games have been a big issue for the Detroit Pistons this season. With three road games in the next four days, they must figure out quickly how to collect wins away from The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Detroit has a 1-8 road record entering its game at Charlotte on Tuesday.
“There is something we have to figure out, especially since we want to be a really good team,” forward Tobias Harris said. “We have to find ways to grind it out on the road. Effort coming in has to be better and even our focus, too, has to be a lot better. Obviously, we have a ways to go to be a good team on the road. This next little stretch we have is going to be a good test for us to try to get together.”
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The Pistons dropped the first game of the four-game trip to Oklahoma City on Saturday, 106-88. They also make stops in Boston on Wednesday and Atlanta on Friday before returning home.
“We've got to figure out these roads woes because we are like a totally different team,” point guard Ish Smith said. “We are going to figure it out, that's a must. Like I said, tough three road games against all Eastern Conference teams above .500, all of us are fighting. We need to get in position for playoffs, so we are going to figure it out.”
Smith has been starting all season in place of injured Reggie Jackson, who has been sidelined since early in training camp with knee tendinitis. Jackson went through his first full practice on Monday but he's not expected to return until the weekend at the earliest.
The Pistons (8-10) have relied on a balanced approach this season, with six players averaging double figures. Harris tops the list at 16.4 points per game, while center Andre Drummond is averaging 14.6 points and 13.4 rebounds.
Charlotte (10-7) won the season series, 2-1, a year ago with guard Kemba Walker averaging 19.7 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in those games.
Walker has lifted the Hornets to victories the past two games after a four-game slide. He averaged 24.5 points in wins over New York (107-102) and Memphis (104-85).
Swingman Jeremy Lamb also played an integral part in those wins, averaging 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds.
Coach Steve Clifford is hoping Lamb can sustain that level of play.
“Most guys in this league can have a good game,” he said in his postgame press conference. “A good portion of them can have a good two weeks. But it's about playing well over 82 games. Obviously, he's got a lot of energy and now the key is to sustain that level of play and keep getting better.”
Clifford was pleased with the overall effort of his team in Memphis on Monday.
“That's two games in a row where we've gotten our defense back,” he said. “We were more physical and the ball movement was terrific. It's a good win, especially on the road.”
Small forward Nicolas Batum, who missed Saturday's win over the Knicks with a corneal abrasion, played on Monday and finished with six points.