The Detroit Pistons will host the New Orleans Pelicans Friday while sitting just one game out of a playoff spot in the underwhelming Eastern Conference, despite being eight games under .500.
If Detroit has any legitimate postseason hopes, it will want to avoid underestimating an opponent, as it did in a loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
"I think we got a little comfortable," Brandon Jennings said to the Detroit Free Press, adding, "At the end of the day, no matter their record, that's still an NBA team over there."
After snapping an eight-game losing streak in Memphis on Monday, New Orleans fell right back into an all-too-familiar rut the following night, falling by 17 at home to the Sacramento Kings.
"I honestly have no idea what it was. We just didn't come out like we cared," forward Anthony Davis told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The Pelicans are 2-10 since pulling to within a game of .500 with a win over Portland on Dec. 30.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN Detroit Plus
ABOUT THE PELICANS (16-25): New Orleans has played two straight games with just 10 players in uniform with Ryan Anderson (neck), Jrue Holiday (leg), Anthony Morrow (illness) and Jason Smith (knee) all out of the lineup. Only Morrow has even a shot at returning Friday, leaving guard Brian Roberts to take a bottom line stance on the current state of the team.
"It's not ideal, but it's all we can do," he said. "We have to keep fighting and keep plugging away."
ABOUT THE PISTONS (17-25): Detroit has losses to league doormats Orlando, Utah and Milwaukee during a 3-9 slide that dates to late December, and with the very real possibility of a fifth straight non-playoff season looming, trade winds have begun to swirl. Greg Monroe, whose name has come up in recent reports, has noted the transition to forward from his customary center position has been a bit of a struggle for him but said that his focus remains on helping the Pistons turn things around.
"I'm here," Monroe said. "If that changes, then I'll move forward, but until then I'm just going to focus on trying to win these games."
1. Detroit has lost three straight to New Orleans and is 3-7 in its last 10 games against the Pelicans/Hornets franchise.
2. New Orleans averages 15.9 3-point attempts — third-fewest in the NBA — and has attempted 11 or fewer from long range in eight of its last 11 games.
3. Monroe notched a season-high 28 points against the Pelicans on Dec. 11 in a 111-106 overtime loss for the Pistons.