Dallas (54-16) at Detroit (55-14)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Tue Mar 28, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While the Detroit Pistons are almost certain to finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Dallas Mavericks are in quite a race for the top spot in the West.

A pair of the league’s top teams face off when Dallas visits Detroit.

The Pistons have the best record in the NBA, while the Mavs are tied with San Antonio for the top mark in the West. Both the Spurs and Dallas trail Detroit by 1 1/2 games in the race for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Dallas has won five of the last seven meetings with Detroit, including a 119-82 rout on Nov. 19 that handed the Pistons their first loss of the season after an 8-0 start.

Detroit is coming off a rare defeat at home, 79-74 to Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey on Sunday. The loss snapped the Pistons’ 16-game winning streak at The Palace of Auburn Hills and was their first in regulation there this season.

Detroit shot a season-low 34.1 percent from the floor and was just 3-for-17 from 3-point range.

“This is a game we had chances to win,” said Chauncey Billups, who had only eight points. “I thought our defense was really good tonight. When the defense is bad, I’m concerned. When our offense just isn’t making shots—that happens.”

Detroit averages 45.2 percent shooting from the field, but has shot below 39 percent in the last three games. Billups has struggled in the last two contests, scoring a combined 17 points and shooting 25.0 percent.

On Sunday, he didn’t score in the first 43 minutes and missed a possible game-tying shot with five seconds left.

“It felt good—it was halfway down and it came out,” Billups said. “That’s to be expected when the night is going like that.”

Detroit has started the same five players in all 69 games this season, while Dallas has been forced to shuffle its lineup the last few months because of injuries.

After losing two of three, the Mavs rebounded to easily defeat Atlanta 98-83 on Saturday. Dallas took a 16-point lead into halftime en route to winning the opener of its four-game road trip.

Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points and 13 rebounds while Jason Terry added 26 points for Dallas.

“All the remaining games (12) are important. We’re jockeying for position every night trying to get the No. 1 seed,” Terry said. “During the playoffs the home court means a lot. Last year we didn’t have it and lost in six games to Phoenix. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The Mavs have decided to rest Josh Howard (hamstring) and Devin Harris (strained left thigh) until the last few weeks of the regular season, and continue to play without Adrian Griffin (hamstring).

Dallas, however, had Keith Van Horn return Saturday after missing 11 games with a knee injury.

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