This does not appear to be a likely spot for the Detroit Pistons’ longest win streak in a decade to end, with or without their lone All-Star.
Wallace was ejected late in the first half Thursday against Toronto for arguing with an official, but Detroit overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to win 95-91. Wallace, the league’s leading rebounder last season and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2001-02, is averaging 13.2 boards— second in the league—to go with 9.8 points and 3.1 blocks per game.
Mehmet Okur got extended playing time due to Wallace’s absence and came through with a season-high 27 points and 14 rebounds.
“It’s really hard to play without Ben, and everybody feels that way because he is the best defensive player in this league,” Okur said. “We came into the second half knowing we had to play hard, especially defensively.”
Detroit did just that, limiting Toronto to 42 second-half points, and posted its 10th win in a row.
This is the team’s longest winning streak since ripping off 11 straight during the 1990-91 season. The franchise record was set the previous season with 13 consecutive victories.
“I don’t look at winning streaks,” said Pistons coach Larry Brown. “I just think we’re getting better. Guys are falling into their roles a little bit better. I really think some areas have definitely improved.
The current run should be safe Friday, as Detroit hosts a Washington team that has lost a season-high nine straight on the road. The Wizards have lost 19 of 23 overall, including six of seven.
They have won just five times in their last 33 trips to Detroit, and have lost eight of the last nine meetings overall.
Plus, Washington is missing both members of its projected starting backcourt this season, with Gilbert Arenas and Jerry Stackhouse sidelined by injuries. Not one member of the team’s starting frontcourt is older than 24 and that trio—Jared Jeffries, Kwame Brown and Brendan Haywood—is combining to average fewer than 21 points and 16 rebounds per game.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 14): Wizards - 6th place, 11 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Pistons - 2nd place, 2 1/2 GB, Central Division.
SEASON SERIES: Pistons, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 29; Pistons, 80-69. At Washington, Hamilton scored 25 points, Billups added 22 and Detroit held the Wizards to a season-low point total, including just nine in the third quarter.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wizards - 4-17 on the road; Pistons - 16-5 at home.