The Detroit Pistons have played much better since their dreadful start, especially at home.
They’ll seek their season-high fourth consecutive home victory Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors, who haven’t won two straight in more than six weeks.
Detroit (14-26) lost 20 of its first 24 games, but has gone 10-6 since after beating Atlanta 86-85 on Friday to win for the third time in four games overall. Tayshaun Prince hit a runner with 24.3 seconds remaining for the Pistons, who also beat the Los Angeles Lakers 88-85 in overtime Tuesday at home.
They have gone 8-3 at the Palace of Auburn Hills since Feb. 3, but they haven’t won four straight at home since a five-game run from Nov. 29-Dec. 12, 2009.
“We’re learning how to fight through turbulence,” coach Lawrence Frank said. “It could have been deja vu all over again, and yet we hung in there.”
“I think when you’re starting to build, you have to look for the little things,” Frank said. “Establishing a home-court advantage obviously is huge.”
Detroit trailed by as many as 23 points Feb. 22 at Toronto before falling 103-93 despite 30 points and 14 rebounds from Monroe, ending its three-game winning streak in the series.
The Raptors (13-26) barely held onto a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 116-98 win over Houston on Wednesday.
Coach Dwane Casey grew increasingly frustrated with his team that consistently has had trouble closing out games, though it set season highs for points scored and field goal percentage with a 59.2 mark.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points for the Raptors, who haven’t won consecutive games since beating Phoenix on Jan. 24 and Utah the following night.
“I got up on our guys a little bit at the end because we kind of threw it around when we should have been playing smart, milking it, executing more,” Casey said. “Win, lose or draw, we have to learn each and every time we walk on the floor, and that’s what I was imploring our guys to do.”
DeRozan also had 23 points in the first meeting with the Pistons, and he’s averaging 21.0 points over his last seven games. His scoring touch has helped compensate for the absence of Andrea Bargnani, who missed his 20th straight game with a calf injury Wednesday.
Bargnani will miss Saturday’s contest as well, though Casey said he expects the former No. 1 overall pick to be in the lineup when Toronto hosts Milwaukee on Sunday.
Despite Toronto’s high-scoring effort Wednesday, it is averaging 90.0 points to rank 27th in the league - one spot ahead of Detroit’s 89.0 per game average.
The Pistons won the most recent meeting in Detroit 107-93 on March 16, 2011, when Prince scored a game-high 22 points and Monroe added 21 and 10 rebounds.
Detroit has won 12 of the last 15 meetings at home.