Pistons vs. Nuggets Game Preview - Jan. 26, 2011
Impressive back-to-back wins should have the Detroit Pistons' confidence on the rise. Their recent history at home against their next opponent should only reinforce that.
The Pistons will try for a 15th straight home victory against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
After escaping with a 75-74 win over Phoenix on Saturday, Detroit held on for a 103-96 victory at Orlando on Monday thanks in part to 20 points from former two-time scoring champion Tracy McGrady.
The Pistons (17-28) won for the fifth time in seven games since coach John Kuester inserted McGrady into the starting lineup at point guard.
"Having the ability to go to (point guard) after being a scorer for many years is a comfortable thing," said McGrady, averaging 10.5 points the last eight games. "It could prolong my career and I have no problem with it. I like the way the team runs when I have the ball."
Tayshaun Prince, averaging 14.8 points on the season, also recorded 20 in the win. The Pistons are 8-1 against Denver when Prince scores more than 10 points.
Detroit's recent success has come without Richard Hamilton, who was held out by Kuester for the eighth straight game. Hamilton is averaging 21.3 points in his last four games against Denver (26-18).
"My whole focus has been preparing for the next game and that's all you can do," Kuester said. "And in preparing for the next game you have to make tough decisions. ...You realize that all of these guys on any given night are going to give us something, and that's the main focus."
Kuester's team has won two straight despite missing forward Charlie Villanueva, who has a sprained left ankle.
Although Detroit has outscored the Nuggets by 11.3 points during its 14-game run at home, three of the last four matchups have been decided by five points or fewer.
Denver hasn't won at Detroit since March 10, 1995.
Winning on the road has been an issue for the Nuggets all season, but they did open a five-game trip Tuesday with a 120-109 victory in Washington.
"This team has a unique mental toughness to it," said coach George Karl, as his team continues to deal with the Carmelo Anthony trade saga. "It's always been a little too emotional at times, but when we've had to straighten ourselves out, we straighten ourselves out."
Anthony scored 23 points to help the Nuggets snap a three-game road losing streak. The three-time All Star, averaging 29.3 points his last four games, had been limited to 15.4 on 35.4 percent shooting in his first five visits to Detroit before scoring 40 in the most recent one.
Chauncey Billups, who spent six-plus seasons with the Pistons before getting traded to Denver in 2008, has scored 27.5 points in four games against his former team since the deal.
The Nuggets have struggled offensively in Detroit, averaging 89.2 points during the 14-game skid, but they enter this contest scoring 117.0 in their last eight games overall.
J.R. Smith was benched against the Wizards after showing up late for Tuesday's morning shootaround and his status for this game is unknown.