The Eastern Conference-leading Detroit Pistons have won their last six games. They have an even longer streak going against their next opponent.
The Pistons look for their eighth straight win over the Los Angeles Clippers when the teams meet at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Monday for the first time this season.
Detroit (31-18) has not lost to the Clippers since a 74-72 defeat at Staples Center on Nov. 3, 2002. Since then, the Pistons have made two trips to the NBA Finals, winning a title in 2003-04, and are once again leading the way in the East - they defeated Toronto 98-92 on Saturday behind Rasheed Wallace’s season-high 28 points and seven rebounds.
Detroit, which had an eight-game winning streak from Nov. 17-Dec. 1, is outscoring its opponents by an average of 12.3 points and outrebounding foes by 6.5 boards during their run.
“We are getting better as the season is growing a little older,” said All-Star Chauncey Billups, who had 14 points and nine assists against the Raptors. “You learn from your mistakes, and I think we’re doing a good job of that.”
Richard Hamilton, another Pistons All-Star, had 21 points and eight assists Saturday, and is averaging 19.3 points and 5.3 assists in his last six games against the Clippers.
Chris Webber had just eight points on 4-of-10 shooting against Toronto, after averaging 15.8 points on 62.0 percent shooting during the first five games of the streak. The Pistons are 10-2 with Webber in the starting lineup since acquiring him on Jan. 16.
Detroit has won five straight home games, including the first three during its season-high five-game homestand.
The Clippers (25-26), meanwhile, will wrap up a season-high seven-game road trip, but has been stumbling recently. They’ve won just two of six games on the trip, and have had little success beating the Pistons on the road in recent years.
Detroit has won 12 of its last 13 home games against the Clippers, with the lone loss coming in overtime on Feb. 19, 2001.
Los Angeles shot only 36.8 percent from the floor - its fourth-worst effort this season - as it lost to Indiana 94-80 on Sunday. The Clippers had won six of seven games before their road trip began, but have since fallen to eighth in the Western Conference standings.
“We talk about coming out ready to play. But yet, you have a game like today,” Cuttino Mobley said. “We should come out hungry. Before you know it, it’s going to be April and we may have no more time.”
Mobley had 23 points against the Pacers, and had 27 points in his last game against the Pistons, a 97-87 loss on Feb. 8, 2006.
Elton Brand added 14 points and 11 rebounds Sunday, but has been struggling on the final stretch of their road trip. After averaging 23.0 points and 14.0 rebounds in the first three games of the road trip, Brand is averaging only 15.7 points and 8.7 boards in his last three games.
Brand, who’s averaging 20.7 points and 9.1 rebounds this season, was solid in two games against the Pistons in 2005-06. He totaled 66 points and pulled down 19 rebounds.
The teams will wrap up their season series on March 11 in Los Angeles.