Home or away, the Detroit Pistons look nearly unstoppable this season.
The same can’t be said for the suddenly struggling Washington Wizards, who will try to end a 10-game losing streak against the defending Eastern Conference champions when they visit the Palace at Auburn Hills.
Coming off back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals, the Pistons started the season 8-0 under new coach Flip Saunders before suffering a 119-82 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last Saturday. Detroit didn’t take long to shake off the defeat, routing Denver 114-89 on Wednesday.
Seven Detroit players reached double figures in scoring and the Pistons set a season high for assists.
“To have 36 assists on 43 baskets shows that we are playing team basketball,” Saunders said. “We aren’t as good as we looked tonight, and we aren’t as bad as we looked in Dallas.”
Saunders’ decision to open up the offense is working for the Pistons, who rank among the league leaders with 99.3 points per game.
The Pistons have also been getting a boost off the bench from Maurice Evans, who had a season-high 16 points Wednesday.
“I think everyone is getting confidence in Mo,” Saunders said. “He makes spectacular plays at both ends of the court. It’s just the basic ones that he needs to work on.”
After hosting the Wizards, the Pistons will play six of their next seven on the road. They have not lost to Washington since the first meeting of the 2002-03 season.
The Wizards began the season 5-1, before dropping five straight, including four road losses in a row. Washington is coming off Wednesday’s 91-83 setback at Orlando.
“When you’re in that slump, you’re in the slump. But I’d rather have it now than in April,” said Gilbert Arenas, who had 19 points and nine assists against the Magic.
“Right now we’re not panicking. It’s something every team goes through. You just have to bounce back.”
STANDINGS (through Nov. 24): Wizards -= 2nd place, 2 GB, Southeast Division. Pistons - 1st place, Central Division.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Wizards - F Antawn Jamison, F Jared Jeffries, C Brendan Haywood, G Jarvis Hayes, G Arenas. Pistons - F Tayshaun Prince, F Rasheed Wallace, C Ben Wallace, G Chauncey Billups, G Richard Hamilton.
TEAM LEADERS: Wizards - Arenas, 26.7 ppg and 6.2 apg; Jamison, 10.4 rpg. Pistons - Hamilton, 21.5 ppg; B. Wallace, 11.5 rpg; Billups, 8.6 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Pistons, 4-0.
LAST MEETING: April 6, 2005; Pistons, 105-93. At Detroit, Ben Wallace had 21 points and 18 rebounds as the Pistons completed the season series sweep.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wizards - 2-4 on the road. Pistons - 4-0 at home.