After salvaging what could have been a disastrous road swing, the New Jersey
Nets look to extend their home winning streak to six games when they host the
Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

The Nets (22-23) began their five-game road trip against Western Conference teams with three consecutive one-point losses, but rallied to win the final two games behind the efforts of Vince Carter.

Carter scored 20 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 112-102 win over Denver, then hit a 35-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to give New Jersey a 116-115 victory over Utah on Monday.

"You know, games have been funny,'' said Jason Kidd, who finished with 22 points and 10 assists against the Jazz. "We've lost three games in a row at the buzzer and now our last game on the road against a talented team in Utah that we win.''

New Jersey opened the season just 4-7 at home, but has won nine of 12 since and has yet to lose at Continental Airlines Arena in the new calendar year. Carter is averaging 25.0 points during the team's season-high five-game home winning streak.

Carter and the Atlantic Division-leading Nets have struggled against the Central Division-leading Pistons (25-18), though, losing the first two meetings this season.

Carter scored just 12 points while shooting 5-for-21 from the floor in a 91-84 defeat Dec. 16 at Continental Airlines Arena, where New Jersey has lost four of its last six games to Detroit.

The Nets have not dropped three straight games to the Pistons in a single season since losing all four games in the 2000-01 series.

Detroit lost to Washington 104-99 on Tuesday in a showdown of the top two teams of the Eastern Conference. The Pistons have lost two of their last three games, with both of those defeats coming to the first-place Wizards.

Detroit fell behind by 19 points midway through Tuesday's second quarter and could not overcome the deficit.

"A lot of times what happens when a team comes out and they hit boom-boom, a couple of shots right away, it's like you're hit with a knockout punch early, and you're staggered,'' Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We didn't react real good after that - right away. We wasted a little bit of time.''

Chauncey Billups scored 24 points on Tuesday, and is averaging 18.1 points in seven games since missing the previous eight with a strained right calf.

Billups has played one of his worst offensive games of the season and one of his best against New Jersey this year. After finishing with 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting and 11 assists in the mid-December win over the Nets, Billups had just six points and shot just 1-for-10 from the field in Detroit's 92-91 victory over New Jersey on Dec. 26.

Richard Hamilton is averaging 27.8 points in his last eight road games. He's also averaging 25.0 points on 51.9 percent shooting in his last three games at Continental Airlines Arena.

The Pistons are 9-3 in the second game when playing on back-to-back nights. They have not lost consecutive road games since Nov. 6 and 8 against Utah and Sacramento.


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