Daily Confidential

The Detroit Pistons are starting to hit their stride.

After losing five of their first eight games, the Pistons will try to win their fifth straight when they host the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.

Detroit (7-5) rallied from an early deficit to beat Atlanta 103-98 on Wednesday. Point guard Chauncey Billups had 24 points and 10 assists to lead four Detroit players with double-doubles.

The Pistons pulled down a season-high 18 offensive rebounds and appear to be learning how to win without center Ben Wallace, who signed with the Chicago Bulls in the offseason.

``That was huge,'' said Billups of Detroit's overall play Wednesday. ``That's all about effort and energy. That's what we weren't getting early in the season.''

The Pistons are averaging 41.9 total rebounds a game, ninth-most in the NBA. They averaged 40.5 last season with Wallace, who averaged more than 11 rebounds in six seasons in Detroit.

Tayshaun Prince had 15 points and 11 rebounds against Atlanta and Nazr Mohammed - Wallace's replacement at center - continues to show signs of improvement, leaving the Pistons excited about their overall progress.

``We've definitely knuckled down lately,'' guard Richard Hamilton said. ``We've really been coming together, denying the ball, just playing hard.''

Detroit is averaging 101.1 points during its four-game win streak. The Pistons will also try for a fifth straight win over the Bobcats, who they swept in last season's four-game series.

Charlotte (3-8), meanwhile, will try to win consecutive games for the first time in 2006-07. Adam Morrison surpassed the 20-point mark for the third time in his rookie season with 26 on 8-of-17 shooting as the Bobcats defeated the Boston Celtics 92-83 on Wednesday.

The Bobcats snapped a two-game losing streak despite blowing a 12-point first quarter lead. Charlotte forced Boston into 18 turnovers and held the Celtics to 40 percent shooting from the field.

``We've been in every game and it's tough when you lose those games,'' Morrison said. ``Hopefully we can play together like this and start hovering around .500.''

Charlotte played Wednesday without guard Brevin Knight, who is listed as day-to-day with a strained left calf. With Knight out, Raymond Felton became the first player in Bobcats history to play an entire game Wednesday night. He finished with 16 points and nine assists.

``I knew I was going to play a lot, but I didn't know I was going to play the entire game, buzzer to buzzer,'' the 22-year-old Felton said. ``But I'm in great shape. I'm young. I'm able to do that right now.

The Bobcats, who are 1-4 on the road, last beat the Pistons 97-86 on Apr. 20, 2005.

Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited