If the Detroit Pistons are going to continue their success on the road, they're going to need Chauncey Billups back in the lineup.

The Pistons point guard hopes to return to action Thursday when Detroit begins a three-game road trip with a matchup against the Houston Rockets.

The Pistons (43-23) play San Antonio on Friday before ending the trip in Milwaukee on Sunday. Detroit leads the Eastern Conference, but the Rockets (43-25) and Spurs each have as many wins as the Pistons, and neither team is above third in the West.

Billups has missed two games with a groin injury and doesn't know whether he'll be ready to go against Houston and San Antonio. He is averaging 17.7 points on the road and 16.5 at home this season.

"If they would let me stand still and shoot 17-foot jumpers, I'd be good to go," said Billups, who's missed 10 games this season. "But I can't move.

"It's just day-to-day, game-to-game. We will just see. We are like a month away from the playoffs and I definitely don't want to do anything that can hurt me."

Without Billups, the Pistons beat Philadelphia 96-75 at home on Tuesday night, their sixth win in the last seven games. Tayshaun Prince scored 30 points and Chris Webber - limited by a chest cold - had nine points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes against his former team.

"There wasn't any extra juice tonight," Webber said. "It was good seeing the guys again. I'm still friends with those guys. It was just good to get a win."

Detroit fell 92-88 to Dallas at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Sunday, but has won six straight and 10 of its last 11 away from home. The Pistons, who are the only team in the East with a winning road record at 23-10, haven't won seven straight road games since Jan. 18-Feb. 22, 2002.

Houston continued its hot play since Yao Ming re-entered the lineup, beating Indiana 86-76 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight victory. The Rockets have won seven of nine since Yao returned after missing 32 games with a broken leg.

The 7-foot-6 center led the way against the Pacers with 32 points, 14 rebounds and 12-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line, though he did have six turnovers.

"If I get the ball in my shooting range, I'm just going to face up and shoot it," Yao said. "It's hard to block my shot and if I get the offensive rebound, I can easily put it back in."

After working his way back into game shape, Yao has posted a double-double in the last three contests, and his 14 rebounds Tuesday were the most since his return.

Yao's big night helped offset a poor shooting performance by the team. The Rockets shot just 39.2 percent, including 5-for-21 from 3-point range, but did allow under 80 points for the second straight game.

Tracy McGrady was the only other Houston player in double figures with 20 points on 7-for-21 shooting, and he also had 10 assists and nine rebounds.

"I was so frustrated on the offensive end," he said. "I couldn't get anything to fall."

The Pistons beat the Rockets 104-92 at home on Nov. 18 for their sixth straight win in the series. Detroit has won nine of the last 11 between the teams, including two in a row in Houston.


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