The Detroit Pistons got their starters some rest with an easy win over the Milwaukee Bucks to open this month. Ending it in similar fashion would send them into the new year on quite a high note.
The Pistons look to extend an eight-game winning streak and continue their dominance of the Bucks when the teams continue their season series Monday.
Central Division-leading Detroit (23-7) is coming off a home-and-home sweep of Indiana, winning on Friday and Saturday to move into position to win nine straight games for the first time since an 11-game run from Jan. 1-29, 2006.
It seems the Pistons should have little trouble extending this streak, having won four straight and nine of 11 against Milwaukee (11-18). The Bucks have won only once in their last eight trips to The Palace of Auburn Hills, where Detroit is 12-2 this season.
Against Milwaukee on Dec. 1, the Pistons sat out their starters in the fourth quarter as they coasted to a 117-91 win. In the final game between the teams last season, Detroit won 121-95 on March 25.
Milwaukee enters this game having lost three straight, giving Detroit a good opportunity to increase its 8 1/2-game lead in the Central. The Bucks are in last place and 11 1/2 games back of the Pistons, who are the only team in the division with a winning record and are making a run at Eastern Conference-leading Boston.
"We just can't be complacent with where we are," Detroit guard Chauncey Billups said. "There are too many good teams in this league that can sneak up on you. We just have to keep playing tough and doing the things that we've been doing all season."
Richard Hamilton has averaged 23.0 points over the past three games, shooting 60.4 percent from the field (29-of-48), and has made all five of his 3-point tries in the last two.
Milwaukee was 3-of-12 from beyond the arc in a 97-95 loss to New Jersey on Saturday night.
The Bucks have lost five of six and 14 of 18 following a five-game winning streak.
After this season's first meeting with Detroit, Milwaukee's players and coaches held a closed-door meeting to try and keep the season from snowballing out of control. The Bucks are 4-10 since then.
"We just have to keep fighting," Milwaukee point guard Mo Williams said. "It will fall our way one day. Guys are not going at each other. Guys still want to turn things around. It's not like we're getting blown out. They're close games, and we're playing well."
Williams had 24 points against the Nets, and is averaging 21.3 in his last four games. He has struggled in 14 games against the Pistons, though, averaging 8.8 points while shooting 39.8 percent from the floor.
Michael Redd, Williams' backcourt mate, had just 11 points versus Detroit on Dec. 1, but is coming off two outstanding games. He had 35 points versus the Nets after a 34-point effort in a loss to Chicago the previous day, giving him 30 points or more in consecutive games for the first time this season.
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