The Detroit Pistons recorded two victories against the Indiana Pacers during their season-best 11-game winning streak last month.
Looking to win three straight for the first time since that run, the Central Division-leading Pistons (31-13) visit the slumping Pacers (19-26) on Tuesday as they go for their fifth consecutive win in the series.
Detroit's 11-game streak occurred from Dec. 14-Jan. 4, with two of the victories coming in a home-and-home series against Indiana. The Pistons struggled after that stretch, though, losing six of nine.
Detroit has managed to maintain a 6 1/2-game lead over Cleveland for the division lead despite the slump, and comes to Indianapolis having won two in a row since a three-game losing streak, including a 101-93 victory over Orlando on Friday.
The Pistons jumped out to a 39-18 lead after one quarter and led 68-49 at the half, then hung on to win despite getting outscored 44-33 after the break.
"We got lazy the second half," coach Flip Saunders said. "It's very difficult when you're up, when you play as well as we did and basically get what you want."
Saunders' team, however, shot 50.6 percent from the field - its best in five games - and outrebounded Orlando 49-31. Richard Hamilton had 32 points and eight assists while Chauncey Billups scored 21 points.
Detroit's two wins over Indiana during its 11-game run came Dec. 28, a 114-101 home victory, and 98-92 at Conseco Fieldhouse the next day. The Pacers' last win over the Pistons came Dec. 29, 2006, a 93-92 victory at The Palace.
The Pistons will be facing a struggling Pacers team as they look to continue building momentum. Indiana has lost three straight and 13 of 17, including a 98-96 defeat to woeful Miami on Saturday in the finale of a four-game road trip.
The Pacers led by nine at the half, but the Heat pulled even at the end of the third quarter before jumping out to a six-point lead with 9:53 remaining and leading the rest of the way.
"It just seems like we really shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes," said Mike Dunleavy, who scored 25 points to lead the Pacers.
Indiana averages 103.2 points per game - tied for sixth-most in the NBA - but has been held below 100 in the last three contests. The Pacers averaged 112.2 points in the six games prior.
Indiana's problems also stem from its inability to stop opponents on the offensive end, as the Pacers are allowing 106.5 points in January.
"It all comes down to defense. If we're not defending and getting stops, we never get into a decent flow," coach Jim O'Brien said. "Defense feeds our offense. In order to win basketball games, we need a tempo that starts with challenging shots and rebounding the basketball."
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