Struggling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings for most of the season, neither the Charlotte Bobcats nor the Detroit Pistons would seem to have much left to play for.
Still, Charlotte has shown signs of improvements of late, while Detroit is stuck in a season-high 10-game skid.
The Bobcats will try to win a third straight game for the second time on Saturday night while the Pistons look to snap their losing streak before it matches their longest in three years.
Charlotte's 16-52 record is still the worst in the NBA but it has won consecutive games for the first time since November. The team's offense, averaging 93.3 points per game, has looked much better in the back-to-back victories, scoring 107 and 119 points against Toronto and Washington, respectively.
The Bobcats have also cut down significantly on turnovers in their last 10 games, averaging 11.7 compared to 14.1 in the first 58 contests.
"We're going back to the way we were playing at the beginning of the season," said Byron Mullens, who has 27 points over the last two games on 5-of-10 3-point shooting. "I don't want to get way over the top with this because it's just two wins. But we'll take it for what it is. It's been a while since we've had that so I'm going to enjoy it."
Gerald Henderson continues to come into his own of late with 22.7 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting over his last seven. Henderson, who scored 21 on 8-of-14 shooting, along with seven rebounds and five assists in Wednesday's win over the Raptors, averaged 13.2 points while shooting 42.9 percent in his first 47 games.
An 11th consecutive loss for the Pistons (23-47) would be their longest since dropping 11 in a row from March 13-April 3, 2010. Despite the skid continuing with a 103-89 loss at Miami on Friday, there were signs of encouragement.
Detroit, which is losing by an average of 17.2 points during the slide, actually at one point threatened the Heat's now 25-game winning streak, leading for the majority of the first three quarters.
But coach Lawrence Frank wants to see him team play with motivation on a night it's not up against one of the league's elite teams.
"Now, we've got a quick turnaround," Frank told the team's official website. "And we've got to be ready. We have our own streak going. Bottom line for us is to compete every single night. You can't just do it in Miami. You've got to do it every night. That's the price of admission in the NBA."
The Pistons could be soon closer to full strength. Brandon Knight (ankle) has missed four games in a row but could return Saturday. Andre Drummond has missed the last 20 games with a fractured tailbone but took part in Friday's shootaround and continues to near his return as well.
Detroit has won six of the last seven meetings and four straight in Charlotte, including a 105-99 victory on Feb. 20 as Knight scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Greg Monroe is averaging 19.3 points and 11.7 rebounds while shooting 56.8 percent in his last six games against the Bobcats.
The Associated Press News Service
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