Jazz-Pistons Preview

The Associated Press

Winners of seven of nine, the Detroit Pistons might feel like their season-opening eight-game losing streak was ages ago.

To continue the success, they'll try Saturday night to knock off a Utah Jazz team that has won 14 of 16 in the series.

The Pistons (14-23) return home, where they've won five of six, after beating Milwaukee 103-87 on Friday. They held the Bucks to 39.6 percent shooting and 38 points after halftime.

Defense has helped key this turnaround for Detroit, which has allowed an average of 88.0 points in its last seven victories, a stark contrast to the 101.5 it surrendered in its first eight games.

Greg Monroe posted his 13th double-double of the season and fourth in five games with 26 points and 11 rebounds Friday, and Detroit's starters accounted for 72 points.

"I really thought our starters stepped up, set the tone, and really were the reason why the game turned," coach Lawrence Frank said. "Over a course of an 82-game season, every single guy on your team is going to need to help contribute to win, and that's what teams are about. Hopefully we can just build off this rhythm and chemistry while just keep fighting and working to get better."

First-year center Andre Drummond also continued his recent surge with eight points and 11 rebounds. He is averaging 8.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks over his last nine games, and leads all rookies in rebounding (7.3) and blocks (1.6) on the season.

Utah (19-19) has made strides on the road recently, splitting its last six after starting 5-12 away from home. But the Jazz still have plenty of room for improvement, as they average 96.5 points on the road, compared to 101.5 in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz came close to notching consecutive road wins for the first time this season Friday. They led Atlanta by 15 in the third quarter, but were outscored 35-19 in the fourth on the way to a 103-95 defeat. Utah allowed the Hawks to shoot 60.0 percent in the final period - the fourth time it's allowed an opponent to reach that mark in the fourth. All four occurrences were in road games, and not surprisingly, all were defeats.

"This is a game we needed to take care of," said Al Jefferson, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds for his 17th double-double. "We had them down, we should have just buried them then. I think we got away from what we had been doing. We turned the ball over too much. We got away from our defense."

Paul Millsap also had his ninth double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, as Utah fell to 2-3 in contests in which both he and Jefferson record a double-doubles in the same game.

Utah was without Marvin Williams (8.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg) on Friday as he missed his second straight game due to inflammation in his right knee. He will sit out again in Detroit.

In the Jazz's lone game against the Pistons last season, Jefferson had 33 points on 14-of-18 shooting and 12 rebounds in a 105-90 home victory.

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