The Detroit Pistons have shown that when their defense falters, their offense is capable of picking them up.
After picking the perfect time for their best offensive effort this season, the Pistons try to extend their longest winning streak in 14 years to nine when they face the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
Detroit allowed 100 points for the first time in 2003-04, snapping an NBA-record streak of not allowing 100 at 38 games—including 36 this season— with a 115-102 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Chauncey Billups scored 27 points as the Pistons shot 51.3 percent from the field, including 13-for-20 from 3-point range, to post a season high and reach 100 points for just the fifth time this season.
“This is really close to where we want to be,” Billups said. “This is a glimpse of where we think we can get to. We can’t play this well every night, but this is what we want.”
The Pistons held their previous two opponents below 70 points—Boston (68) and Houston (66)—before taking on a Mavericks squad that is second in the league with a 101.6 average.
“I don’t really think we’re going to miss the 100-point streak, as long as the winning steak keeps going,” said Ben Wallace, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds. “If we keep playing like this, good things are going to happen to this team.”
Detroit is riding its longest win streak since taking 11 straight during the 1990-91 season. The Pistons set a franchise record with a 13-game run from Jan. 23-Feb. 21, 1990.
Six of the Pistons’ victories during the current streak have come at home, where they improved to 15-5 with Sunday’s win. They now face six of their next 10 opponents on the road.
The Bulls close out a three-game homestand after winning for just the third time in eight games with an 89-84 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday.
Curry, who was 1-for-9 from the field in an 87-78 loss to Portland on Friday, made 13-of-14 from the free-throw line to set new career highs in free throws and free-throw attempts.
“I was trying to concentrate and get up there. I felt rhythm on the line and I was kind of hoping to go to the line every time,” Curry said.
The third-year forward is averaging career highs with 13.1 points and 6.4 rebounds, and has improved his free-throw percentage from 62.4 in 2002-03 to 71.6.
“He was much more aggressive,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “He still needs to improve finishing because I feel he can go up and take three people home with him if he wants to.”
Tuesday’s matchup is one of only four home games the Bulls play over their next 14 outings. Chicago is 7-13 at the United Center and 5-12 on the road.
Chicago will get a boost with the return of Scottie Pippen, who had been sidelined for a month after having surgery on his left knee.
Pippen was originally expected to be out six to eight weeks after doctors discovered a torn meniscus during surgery.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 11): Pistons - 2nd place, 3 GB, Central Division. Bulls - 6th place, 15 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Pistons - Billups, 18.4 ppg and 5.2 apg; Wallace, 13.3 rpg. Bulls - Crawford, 16.9 ppg; Tyson Chandler, 10.3 rpg; Crawford and Hinrich, 5.5 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Pistons, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 17; Pistons, 77-73. At Detroit, Hamilton scored 20 points as the Pistons snapped a four-game skid to give Larry Brown his 1,300th win as a coach.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pistons - 9-8 on the road; Bulls - 7-13 at home.