The problems for the Charlotte Hornets tend to start at the defensive end. They might want to take a close look at their next opponent when it comes to setting a defensive tone.
The Detroit Pistons will visit the Hornets on Wednesday in a matchup of teams that have yet to find their footing this season.
The Pistons, to their credit, are coming off Monday night’s 103-88 home victory against the Orlando Magic in which Detroit limited Orlando to 33 second-half points.
“Our defense is taking steps in the right direction,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey told reporters after the game.
Charlotte is on a five-game losing streak, and this is the only home game during a four-game stretch for the Hornets. The Pistons will arrive wanting to maintain the defensive edge they exhibited in the second half against the Magic.
“What we did was executed our game plan defensively from start to finish,” Pistons forward Blake Griffin said. “… I thought we did a really good job of helping each other out and locking in and executing.”
Griffin said improved communication is the key to making the defense work.
“When we’re on one of our better stretches defensively, the communication is high,” Griffin said.
The Pistons have actually held each of their past three opponents to under their season scoring average.
The Hornets tend to be going in the opposite direction defensively.
During Charlotte’s five-game slide, only two of the outcomes had final margins in single digits.
“We’ve won some close ones,” coach James Borrego said. “We lost some close ones.”
Borrego said the defense is the root of the team’s problems, and some of it comes from general unawareness and not being tough enough.
“Our defense has to be better, it has to improve,” Borrego said. “Right now, we’re physically soft. We lack intensity on that end of the court.”
Opponents seem to torch the Hornets in clutch moments.
“We have to stop the threes,” Hornets forward Nic Batum said, describing part of the problem on the defensive end.
The Hornets have received regular strong offensive contributions from guard Terry Rozier the past couple of weeks. He even led the team in rebounding with nine in Monday night’s loss at Miami.
But despite what’s happening on offense, the Hornets don’t seem stable enough to withstand rallies from opposing teams.
“Teams make runs and we tend to hang our head,” Borrego said. “We just have to get better. That comes with time and accountability.”
The Pistons have issues as well, as indicated by their current eight-game road losing streak. Their lone road victory came in the season opener.
The road woes included the failure to close out a Nov. 15 game at Charlotte. The Hornets rallied for a 109-106 victory on Malik Monk’s buzzer-beating 3-point basket from about 26 feet out.
The Pistons have scored only 89 and 90 points in their last two road games.
Detroit received a team-high 20 points from guard Luke Kennard against Orlando, marking the first time in five game he led the Pistons in scoring.
The Pistons could use Kennard production especially as they monitor guard Derrick Rose’s workload. If Rose plays Wednesday night, it will mark games in four of six days as he comes off an injury.
–Field Level Media