Detroit Pistons had an unexpected layoff this week, though it wasn’t pleasant.
The team got stuck in Dallas, thanks to a combination of mechanical issues with its plane and poor weather conditions. The Pistons will return to action with a back-to-back set of home games, beginning with a matchup against Charlotte Hornets on Friday.
Detroit was supposed to begin the homestand against Washington Wizards on Wednesday after losing to the Mavericks 111-105 on Monday night. However, the Pistons didn’t leave Texas until Thursday afternoon.
The Pistons return home having lost nine of their past 11 games. In the Monday defeat, Dallas superstar Luka Doncic overwhelmed Detroit with 53 points — and fouled out Pistons point guards Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes as they tried to guard him. Despite Doncic’s outburst, Detroit was down by just two points with less than two minutes remaining. The Pistons came up empty in their last four possessions while getting outscored 28-21 during the final quarter.
“We missed some good looks at the end,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We had three offensive fouls, stepped out of bounds twice. Just little things that you have to be disciplined and mature in those situations in closing time of the game to make those plays.”
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Bojan Bogdanovic’s 29 points led the Pistons and Saddiq Bey contributed 18. However, Bey missed a potential tying layup with 1:10 left.
“I think we played as hard as we could,” Bey said. “We’ve got to make better decisions, starting with me down the stretch.”
The Friday game will be the second of four meetings this season between the two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Detroit won 141-134 in overtime at Charlotte on December 14. Alec Burks led the Pistons with 27 points off the bench while Hayes had 25 and Bogdanovic supplied 24. Kelly Oubre Jr., currently sidelined due to a hand injury, topped the Hornets with 28 points. “Last time with Detroit, the biggest difference was in the paint and on the glass,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said in a TV interview. “We’ve got to be more physical in the interior, we’ve got to finish more possessions.”
Charlotte will be playing the second of back-to-back road games, having lost 114-98 to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.
The Hornets made only seven of 35 3-point tries (20 percent) and 41.9 percent of their field-goal attempts overall. The Bulls shot 51.9 percent from the floor, 39.3 percent (11 of 28) from long range.
“We played with good effort, we played with good energy. We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Clifford said. “We’ve got to keep playing no matter what when the ball’s not going in the basket. And that to me was a big factor in the game.”
Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball, who compiled 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, was ejected in the late going for arguing a non-call. Clifford was not pleased. “We have one rule. No fourth-quarter technicals,” the coach said. “Can’t take them. It’s inexcusable because the fourth quarter’s different.”
The Hornets have still won half of their last eight games.
“I think we’re starting to (improve) because we’re healthier,” Clifford said. “Hopefully as we get guys into their minutes, into their playing groups, and we can stay healthy, we’ll have a chance these last 30 games to play better.”