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Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic game preview

After an awful past month, the Pistons are just hoping that they’ve already struck the bottom. At least it’s up from there.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After five blowouts in six games, it seemed like the Pistons had hit rock bottom.

After a blowout at home against that led to the starters being benched, it seemed like rock bottom.

After losing to the league's worst team, it seemed like rock bottom.

After dropping an 11 point fourth quarter lead to the Pelicans, it seemed like rock bottom.

After another fourth quarter collapse that culminated with Andre Drummond's benching, it can't get any worse. Right?

The Situation

As Sean Corp and Mike Payne pointed out, the Pistons 17-27 record matches the team's record at this point last season. The trade deadline is about three weeks away, and lots of folks in the Palace front office should be sweating.

The race between the playoffs and lottery are about equal at this point. The Pistons are tied for the ninth worst record in the league, but only have three more wins than the third-worst 76ers. They're also ninth in the Eastern Conference, with only two wins fewer than the current eighth seed Bobcats.

Things haven't been any sunnier in Orlando, where the Magic have lost 13 of their last 15 games. While it's been a disastrous month for the team, things have been looking better for their No. 2 draft pick rookie Victor Oladipo. After a shaky first couple of months as a pro, he has put together a nice January averaging 15.6 points on 54 percent true shooting, 5.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.7 steals.

Keys to the Game

Defense: There was a stretch back in November where the Pistons held their opponents under 100 points for six straight games. And we were actually worried about the defense back in those days! We were so young, so naïve. The Pistons have allowed over 100 points for the past four games and you'd have to go back to December 7 to count up six times they've held opponents under 100. That's 24 games.

Fourth quartersBench Smith, handcuff Jennings, feed Moose.

Point guard matchup: Jameer Nelson is quietly putting together a bounce-back season. He's been particularly dangerous from three, where he's tied with Kevin Durant for 14th in the league in made three pointers and has been shooting near 40 percent for the past couple months. If Brandon Jennings puts up one of his 3-20 shooting nights, Pistons will get blown out again.

Question of the game:

How will Andre Drummond bounce back after Sunday's fourth quarter benching?