The Detroit Pistons are finally playing like the defending NBA champions— perhaps even better.
The Pistons seek their ninth victory in 10 games before heading to the All-Star break as they take on the streaking Philadelphia 76ers at Wachovia Center.
Detroit closed out a dominating three-game homestand with Monday’s 107-83 rout of Milwaukee after similarly impressive wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington. The Pistons scored 105.7 points per game on the homestand and won by an average of 22.3.
Six players scored in double figures for the second straight game and the team finished with 32 assists against just four turnovers on Monday. The four turnovers matched a franchise low, and the 32 assists gave the Pistons at least 30 in three straight games for the first time since January 1987.
“I’ve seen games where we’ve had 32 assists before,” said point guard Chauncey Billups, who had 17 points, five assists and no turnovers. “But 32 assists and four turnovers? That’s unreal.”
Rasheed Wallace had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Detroit, which was just shy of 50 percent shooting from the field (124-for-250) on the homestand.
“We are playing about as well as we can play,” coach Larry Brown said. “Getting 32 assists and four turnovers is just great.”
Over the last five games, no Pistons player has attempted more than 18 field goals and none have reached the 30-point plateau in the last 10.
“It’s fun playing basketball like this,” said All-Star center Ben Wallace, who had 11 points and 12 boards Monday. “Everyone is playing hard and everyone is touching the ball. When you play like this, the energy gets contagious.”
The Pistons won their sixth straight home game, and need to keep the momentum going against the Sixers. Six of their first seven games after the break are on the road, where they have gone 12-12 this season.
Allen Iverson and the 76ers have won seven of 10 to reach .500 and move into a first-place tie with Boston in the Atlantic Division.
Iverson followed a career-best 60-point performance against Orlando on Saturday with 38 points and 10 assists in Monday’s 106-105 victory over New York. His final assist resulted in Marc Jackson’s game-winning layup with one second left.
“I knew they’d double somebody, but I was surprised I was open,” said Jackson, who scored 22 points. “It was a great play and we executed it perfectly.”
Iverson’s 98 points over the last two games is his second-highest total in consecutive games, topped only by his 54- and 51-point performances in consecutive games in December.
The win was the Sixers’ third straight—matching a season high—and evened their record for the first time since they improved to 6-6 with a win over Washington on Nov. 26.
“Hopefully, we’re getting over a hump,” said Kyle Korver, who had 12 points. “That’s not our goal to be a .500 team.”