Even without some of their key players, the Detroit Pistons are enjoying a strong stretch that includes a win over one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
The Pistons, though, certainly wouldn’t mind getting Ben Gordon(notes) and Tayshaun Prince(notes) back as they continue their longest homestand of the season against the struggling Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Detroit (15-26) has won four of five even though it played each contest without Gordon (groin), Prince (knee) and Will Bynum(notes) (ankle). Gordon and Prince are expected to be game-time decisions Friday, while Bynum will miss his 11th straight contest.
Gordon, averaging 17.2 points, has missed the last five games and 16 this season. Prince has been active for nine games.
Prince was the Pistons’ second-leading scorer last season, averaging 14.2 points.
The win was the third straight at home for the Pistons, who are 3 1/2 games behind eighth-place Chicago in the East.
“They understand that we’re at a stage right now where we’ve just got to work hard,” Detroit coach John Kuester said.
The Pistons need Stuckey to remain sharp. The third-year guard went 11 for 24 from the field after shooting 36.9 percent over his previous four games.
Stuckey was held to 10 points on 2-of-9 shooting in a 106-102 loss to Indiana on April 11, the teams’ last meeting.
The Pistons and Pacers (14-28) both won two games at home in last season’s series. Detroit has won five straight and seven of eight versus the Pacers at The Palace.
Indiana is 4-18 on the road, allowing 107.7 points per game. The Pacers lost 109-98 at Orlando on Wednesday night, their third straight defeat following a three-game winning streak.
Center Roy Hibbert(notes), who had scored in double figures in four straight games, was held to three points as Indiana struggled with its big lineup on the floor. When the Pacers went small, utilizing players such as Dahntay Jones(notes) and Mike Dunleavy, they went on a 23-4 run to cut their deficit to eight midway through the fourth.
That success may help dictate how coach Jim O’Brien uses his rotation going forward.
“We struggle with a big lineup,” he said. “A big lineup doesn’t work for us. We are better when we’re small. It is too slow, it doesn’t run, it doesn’t move, it doesn’t get up and down and it doesn’t defend on a high enough level.”
All-Star Danny Granger(notes) is certain to be a mainstay in whatever configuration O’Brien uses. The forward had 25 points after scoring a season-low eight on 2-of-16 shooting in a 113-83 loss to Miami on Tuesday night.
Granger averaged 30.8 points and shot 40.0 percent (8 for 20) from 3-point range in his last four games against Detroit.