Bobcats at Pistons preview
Forward Gerald Wallace leads the team in scoring (14.3* per game), rebounding (13.8) and steals 2.0. Wallace has battled injuries throughout his career, but when healthy shows flashes of being an elite NBA player.
Boris Diaw is a multi-dimensional threat and can play nearly every position on the court. He is second on the team in scoring (12.3) and assists (4.8). Raja Bell is averaging 12.3 points after missing Charlotte’s first three games with a wrist injury.
Point guard Raymond Felton (11.8 points, 5.8 assists) and backup D.J. Augustin (9.8 points, 2.7 assists) are both talented young guards learning what head coach Larry Brown expects out of his point guards.
Tyson Chandler (7.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks) mans the middle for the Bobcats. Chandler was traded to Charlotte in the offseason by New Orleans for Emeka Okafor, but has struggled early on.
Key matchup — Detroit’s Jonas Jerebko vs. Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace. Pistons coach John Kuester said Jerebko is in the starting lineup because of his defense. The rookie for Sweden will have his hands full with Wallace. Charlotte is (2-0) this season when Wallace scores 18 or more points. Jerebko must also keep Wallace, who leads the NBA in rebounding, off the boards.
Jerebko is averaging 4.8 rebounds per game since entering the starting lineup, but must also look for his shot. Jerebko scored a career-high 10 points in the win over Philadelphia and was 5-for-10 from the field, but it was also the first time he took more than five shots in a game.
“Jonas has kept his energy level up pretty high,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “We need him to be focused on defense because the matchups in this league at the 3 spot are very, very difficult to guard. Gerald Wallace from Charlotte is outstanding and some of the other people (Jonas) will be facing are also. It will be a big challenge for him.”
The skinny — Charlotte is playing a back-to-back after hosting Orlando Tuesday, while Detroit (3-4) has been sitting at home since Sunday and had two days off to prepare. The well-rested Pistons should have an advantage late in the game or could do themselves a favor and build a lead early against the possibly tired Bobcats.
Detroit is coming off a home win over the 76ers and will be looking for consecutive wins for the first time this season. The Pistons have lost two straight after both of their previous wins.
The Pistons will need Ben Gordon to continue his hot shooting. Gordon is averaging 24 points per game, while shooting 47.3 percent. Gordon has scored 19 or more in all seven games this season.
The point guard duo of Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum will have to make sure Charlotte’s Felton and Augustin work on the defensive end, but also control the tempo for the short-handed Pistons. Stuckey and Bynum will also have to look to get others involved for Detroit, which is currently dead last in the league in assists.
Defense will also be key. Led by the rejuvenated Ben Wallace, the Pistons are second in the league in field goal percent defense at 41.7 percent, while Charlotte is dead last in scoring at 85.3 per game and field goal percentage (38.6 percent). If Detroit can hold the Bobcats to those numbers it should go a long way into securing the ‘W’.
“Our main focus has been field goal percentage (defense), making sure we keep people down,” Kuester said. “Now if we start doing a good job of not fouling people and putting them on the line, we’ll be in good shape. Like we keep saying these words, ‘It’s a work in progress.’ All things are taking time. They are starting to gear into what I want to get accomplished defensively. (There’s) still going to be nights where it’s not going to be as pretty. If we can start getting the mindset that we can get stops, boy that’s going to be huge for our team in the future.”
Kuester will no doubt be fired up for Wednesday’s game when he face his mentor Brown for the first time as a head coach.
Prediction: Pistons 97, Bobcats 89; Pemberton’s record (3-4, on a 3-game win streak)
* — All Stats entering Tuesday night