Pistons at Bobcats Game Preview - Apr. 10, 2011
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It's been a tumultuous season on and off the court for the Detroit Pistons, but they at least seem to be closing with some momentum at The Palace.
Finding anything positive about their recent road performances has been considerably more difficult.
The Pistons look to avoid their first 12-game road slide since the mid-1990s when they visit the also-lottery-bound Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday night.
Detroit (28-51) has won six of its last eight home games - shooting a remarkable 51.1 percent - and guaranteed itself a winning record at The Palace on Friday, beating Milwaukee 110-100 behind 27 points and 13 rebounds from Chris Wilcox.
"That's what the fans want and that's what we want, to prove to people that we should have been at the 8 or 7 spot (in the Eastern Conference playoffs)," forward Austin Daye said. "It's impossible this year but hopefully next year, that will happen."
The win came hours after the organization found out it will be sold to billionaire California investor Tom Gores, ending a drawn-out sale by longtime owner Karen Davidson that stretched back before the season.
The Pistons have been in the Davidson family since 1974, and in that time they haven't seen many uglier road skids than the one they're currently experiencing. While the 11-game drought that dates back to Feb. 9 still has a ways to go to match the franchise-worst 19-game road skid from 1980-81, a loss Sunday would mark Detroit's first 12-game slide away from home since a 17-game drought that stretched over two seasons from March 14-Dec. 4, 1995.
Like the Pistons did Friday, Charlotte (32-47) will be trying to guarantee itself a winning home record.
The Bobcats aren't exactly going out in style, though. They've dropped five straight after falling 112-103 on Friday at Miami, their first game since being eliminated from playoff contention by losing in overtime to Orlando on Wednesday.
Stephen Jackson (hamstring) and Tyrus Thomas (knee) have missed each game during the skid.
"We just ran out of energy," center Kwame Brown told the team's official website. "They had all their guys. Not to make any excuses, but we're still missing Jack and Ty, so hopefully we can get those guys back and finish the season strong."
It seems unlikely Jackson or Thomas will return Sunday, and Jackson's absence is great news for Detroit. He's averaged 30.0 points in three games - two wins - against the Pistons.
Brown's recent play has at least given Charlotte one bright spot. He's averaged 15.7 points and shot 63.3 percent over his last three games, and his 23 points Friday were six more than he ever scored in a single game with Detroit the past two seasons.
The Pistons now have another former top-10 pick looking to resurrect his career in Wilcox, who's averaged 11.8 points while shooting 67.6 percent over his last 13 games. He's blossomed playing alongside rookie center Greg Monroe, the No. 7 overall pick who's averaged 17.7 points and 10.7 rebounds over his last three contests.