The Pistons have lost four of their last five but head coach Stan Van Gundy sees progress coming off a 1-3 close-but-no-cigars road trip. The team desperately needs a couple of victories following Saturday's 95-88 loss at Memphis, which dropped the Pistons record to 3-7.
The Pistons have two winnable home games as Orlando (4-7) visits The Palace tonight and Phoenix (5-5) comes in Wednesday.
"I think on the defensive side we are starting to play smarter and better and I think we can take something from that," Van Gundy said.
The problem is the Pistons offense is among the worst in the league.
They rank next to last in field-goal percentage (41.8 percent) and free-throw percentage (66.2 percent). Only two teams average fewer assists (18.1) and the Pistons rank 26th in points (93.0).
Van Gundy talked about a gulf that the Pistons must overcome. He said it is not a large one but it is something they must work harder on to cross the divide.
"It is different things different nights," he said. "It is a consistency issue. The offense has been a major struggle. You can see our numbers and we aren't very good. We got to keep fighting and find some more offensive answers. But we continue to make progress defensively."
Van Gundy said he saw progress on the road trip. Forward Kyle Singler was not as optimistic.
"It does not mean anything if you do not win," he said.
Josh Smith surpassed the 6,000 rebound mark by grabbing seven against the Grizzlies Saturday. He has 6,006 for his career. The Pistons are third in the NBA in rebounding (46.4 per game), behind Portland (47.2) and Sacramento (46.6).
With Andre Drummond in foul trouble the Pistons were outboarded by Memphis 53-43. Former Spartan Zach Randolph had 22 rebounds, including a career and franchise high 13 offensive boards.
Magic at Pistons
Tip-off: 7:30 tonight at The Palace of Auburn Hills
Outlook: Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy faces the team he coached from 2007-12. Assistants Brendan Malone and Bob Beyer also coached with him before being fired. ... Magic G Willie Green played for Detroit Mercy.