NBA.com Daily Confidential

Eleven days ago, the Detroit Pistons had dropped four of five games heading into a matchup with the Washington Wizards. They haven't lost since.

The Pistons look for their sixth straight victory Saturday when they visit Washington at the Verizon Center, an arena where they've had success in the past.

Detroit lost its only game at the Verizon Center last season, 110-92 on March 11. Prior to that contest, though, the Pistons (8-5) had won seven straight games at Washington since the start of the 2001-02 season.

The Pistons opened this season slowly, and took a 3-5 record into a Nov. 17 home game versus the Wizards. Detroit won that contest 100-91 as Richard Hamilton scored 27 points, and Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace each added 20.

The victory kicked off Detroit's current five-game winning streak, which continued with Friday night's 104-95 defeat of the Charlotte Bobcats. The Pistons, who have won the Central Division the last two seasons and in four of the past five, moved into a tie with Cleveland for the division lead as the Cavaliers lost at Indiana.

``We could win 10 in a row and there's always room for improvement,'' Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. ``Winning five (straight) games - what that does mean - is that your guys are doing some things and they're executing.''

Detroit by no means played a perfect game Friday. Three of the team's first four possessions resulted in turnovers, and the Pistons trailed 80-76 early in the fourth quarter before an eight-point run gave them the lead for good.

``We're still not executing as good as we could. We've got some lapses throughout the game,'' said point guard Chauncey Billups, who had 10 assists but only nine points on 3-for-12 shooting, failing to reach double figures for only the second time this season. ``But our effort is good every single night.''

Fortunately for Billups and the Pistons, the rest of the starting lineup scored in double figures to pick up the slack. Hamilton led the way with 26 points, while Prince chipped in 21. Wallace added 19 - nine of them on 3-pointers - and center Nazr Mohammed had 11.

Billups' off night, though, was nothing compared to what Wizards (4-8) star Gilbert Arenas endured Friday. Arenas, who is averaging 26.2 points and had scored at least 20 in 10 straight contests, managed a season-low three points on 1-for-12 shooting in Washington's 95-80 loss at Memphis.

Arenas remained scoreless until a dunk midway through the fourth quarter. He later hit one of two free throws.

``I was just missing shots,'' Arenas said. ``It was just one of those nights. They come and they go.''

The loss completed a winless three-game road trip for Arenas and the Wizards, who may benefit from a return home for their next three contests. Arenas has scored 40 points or more in three of five home games this season, as Washington has gone 4-1 at the Verizon Center.

The Wizards are 0-7 away from home.

``We can catch some momentum before we go on the road again,'' Arenas said. ``It will be a good test for us. We're getting tested right now.''

Arenas is averaging 24.3 points in 12 career games versus the Pistons.


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