The Pistons were back at it Tuesday, trying to erase the stench of a 39-point loss to the Spurs.

Assistant Brian Hill — filling in for coach Lawrence Frank, who was dealing with a family matter — said the team worked hard, which is a sign the Pistons don't have the look of a defeated group.

Their look in live games, however, says otherwise.

The Pistons appear fried, and the worst is yet to come.

The next round of games, beginning tonight against the Knicks, is a potential back-breaker for a team with little to play for except pride.

Six of the next eight games are against playoff teams who are a combined 223-135. The Pistons are 8-25 against teams currently in the playoffs, and 2-12 against them on the road.

After the Knicks, the Pistons host the Mavericks, then hit the road for games against the Clippers, Jazz, Warriors and Trail Blazers.

Then they face the Nets at home before facing the Heat, which has won 15 consecutive, in Miami.

"This is the NBA, and you have to be ready for the next one so it does not happen again," Pistons guard Jose Calderon said. "You keep working and doing your thing. If you keep everybody on the same page you can compete against anybody."