The Eastern Conference-leading Detroit Pistons own the best home record in the league. They look to win their 13th straight game at The Palace of Auburn Hills and become the league’s first team this season to clinch a playoff berth as they host the Chicago Bulls.
Detroit is 26-2 at home, and hasn’t won 13 consecutive home games since a 15-game streak from Jan. 26-April 3, 1990, en route to that season’s NBA championship.
The first step to the Pistons winning another title would be wrapping up a playoff berth, even though that’s been a given for some time with the team owning the league’s best record for most of the season. Detroit will officially clinch its spot in the postseason with a win over Chicago, the ninth-place team in the East.
The Pistons have won four straight over the Bulls and 14 of the last 16 in the series, but Chicago has won two of the last three meetings at the Palace. The Pistons lead the season series 3-0, outscoring Chicago by an average of 16.3 points.
A victory would give Detroit its fourth season sweep of the Bulls in six years.
Detroit returns home after splitting a four-game road trip, and is coming off a 105-94 loss Saturday to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pistons led 58-51 at halftime, but allowed the Lakers to go on an 18-0 third-quarter run to put the game out of reach.
“There are really, really signs of fatigue,” Chauncey Billups said. “It’s not having enough energy to take it to the basket and take that pounding. Instead, it’s taking the shots that might be halfway open.”
Billups had 24 points and nine assists, but scored only four points in the second half. He is averaging 24.0 points on 42.6 percent shooting in his last three games.
Rasheed Wallace made his first six shots but finished 7-for-17 and with 17 points. Wallace matched his season-low with three points on 1-for-13 shooting in Detroit’s 95-87 win Feb. 24 over Chicago.
Chicago has won just three of its last 10 road games, and scored a season low in a 91-72 defeat Sunsay at Cleveland.
The Bulls, though, defeated New Jersey 95-87 at home Tuesday behind a career-high 24 points off the bench from Andres Nocioni. Nocioni made 9 of 14 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
“(Nocioni) brings a lot to our group in general. His style sometimes can be detriment to the way he plays. Sometimes he gets so uptight, nervous and anxious but tonight he was much more relaxed,” said Chicago coach Scott Skiles. “I could tell on his first couple of shots, that he was much more relaxed in the way he caught the ball and shot. He is very valuable to us all the time, especially when he plays like that.”
Nocioni scored 17 points on 7 for 10 shooting in his last game against Detroit on Feb. 24.
Kirk Hinrich scored 22 points and added nine assists, and is averaging 25.0 points and 6.6 assists in his last five games.
Team leading scorer Ben Gordon scored just five points on 2-for-8 shooting against the Nets, and has just six points in his last two games at Detroit.