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Auburn Hills — For a team that ranked among one of the NBA’s best in rebounding a year ago, it has quickly become an alarming issue for the Pistons.

During the team’s four-game skid, an inability to secure late defensive rebounds has become a worrisome trend.

Trailing 104-102 in the final seconds against the Knicks last week, the Pistons got a stop as Carmelo Anthony missed a long jumper. Courtney Lee, however, grabbed an offensive rebound, which led to a Derrick Rose free throw to make it a three-point game, forcing the Pistons to shoot a 3-pointer to tie, which Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed.

Two games later, the Pistons gave up two offensive rebounds in the final 2 minutes 21 seconds to the Celtics that gave them the lead. Avery Bradley broke an 84-84 tie with a layup off an Isaiah Thomas missed jumper and Al Horford tipped in a missed Marcus Smart layup in the final second for the winning basket.

Then, in a tight-knit fourth quarter against the Rockets on Monday, Clint Capela had a putback off a Corey Brewer missed 3-pointer to give Houston a two-point edge with 6:33 left before James Harden grabbed a long rebound off a missed 3-pointer and drained a jumper for a three-point lead with 1:06 left.

“It shouldn’t be an excuse,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We just got to within ourselves find that heart and just start boxing out people and going and get the ball. All five of us and whoever else comes off the bench. You got to make that an emphasis and just hit somebody and then go get the ball.”

Part of the problem is there’s just an expectation for Andre Drummond, who led the league with 14.8 rebounds last season, to grab every board. By doing so, though, it leaves players watching rather than trying to help Drummond.

“I think we just rely on Dre to get them all because that’s normally what happens,” Marcus Morris said. “He grabs all the rebounds, so it’s like times where we think he’s going to get it and we kind of pull out.

“I consider myself a great rebounder, but he’s also the best rebounder in the league, so at times we depend on him to get it because he normally does.”

Bullock showing value

Forward Reggie Bullock turned into a valuable contributor off the bench during the Pistons playoff push last year, and seems to have picked up where he left off.

After dealing with back spasms and a hip pointer and missing the first 12 games, Bullock has scored 16 on 7-for-14 shooting the last three games.

It’s a welcome sign considering Bullock started 1-for-19 over 17 appearances last year.

“He had the great preseason a year ago and then started the year badly and we didn’t stick with him very long, quite honestly,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He was just off to such a bad start.

“Then he had to sit for a long time but to his credit, he stayed with it and was ready to play. We’ve seen the same thing from him that we would expect. He knows his game and he knows how to play.”

Jackson eyes next step

Van Gundy said Reggie Jackson did a lot of running and took part in some 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 contact drills, but didn’t participate in any of the 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 drills.

“I think a lot of it is just how he feels each day and however he feels, they move on to the next step,” Van Gundy said. “So I would think the next step is for him to do some 4-on-4, 5-on-5 in the half court and then progress to playing a little bit in the full court.

“How many days of that (the training staff) needs to see before he’s cleared to play, I’m not sure.”

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jamesbhawkins

Heat at Pistons

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, The Palace, Auburn Hills

TV/radio: FSD/WMGC

Outlook: The Pistons have lost four straight, including three by three points or less. ... The Heat (4-9) ranks fourth in points allowed (96.9) and is led by C Hassan Whiteside (18.8 points, 15.9 rebounds) and G Goran Dragic (16.2 points, 5.8 assists).

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