Pistons vs. Sixers Game Preview - Jan. 8, 2011

After a rough start, the Philadelphia 76ers have played well for more than a month.

The Detroit Pistons are hoping a significant winning stretch of their own is still to come.

Looking to avoid a fourth consecutive loss, the Pistons try to continue their recent success against the visiting 76ers on Saturday night.

After a 3-13 start, Philadelphia (15-21) improved to 12-8 after beating Central Division-leading Chicago 105-99 on Friday. The turnaround has helped the 76ers move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

"We're definitely starting to feel each other right now," said second-year guard Jrue Holiday, who scored 19 points.

Detroit (11-24) is 3 1/2 games behind the 76ers, but already seems to feel a sense of urgency as it tries to avoid falling further down in the East standings. The Pistons, losers of five of six, haven't won more than two in a row since starting 0-5.

Detroit, however, went 3-1 against Philadelphia in 2009-10.

"This is an important game," coach John Kuester told the Pistons' official website. "But every game is important for us right now. We've got to play with the type of tenacity and concentration we did (in a 104-92 win over Boston on Dec. 29) and we'll give ourselves a chance."

Following that victory over the East-leading Celtics, the Pistons went 0-3 on the road against Phoenix, Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Detroit, which fell 108-83 to the Lakers on Tuesday, averaged 85.0 points on the swing.

"We were playing terrific basketball on both ends of the floor," forward Charlie Villanueva said. "On the West Coast trip, we got away from that a little bit. But the beauty of the NBA is you've got one (Saturday) and, hopefully, we can get back on track."

Villanueva averaged 17.8 points against the 76ers last season, but was held to four against the Lakers. Tracy McGrady and rookie Greg Monroe each scored 14 for the Pistons.

The 31-year-old McGrady is averaging only 6.1 points this season, but 13.3 on 20-of-40 shooting the last four games since becoming a starter while guard Rodney Stuckey dealt with the flu.

Stuckey (15.3 points per game) totaled three points in limited minutes over the last two games after missing two, but could be back in the starting lineup for this contest. He's averaged 17.9 points in his last seven games versus Philadelphia.

Jodie Meeks scored 24 points and Lou Williams added 20 as the 76ers' shot 56.3 percent on Friday to avenge a 45-point loss to the Bulls on Dec. 21.

"It's a hell of a win," 76ers coach Doug Collins said.

The starting backcourt of Meeks and Holiday has played a big part of Philadelphia's resurgence. Holiday has averaged 20.1 points on 55.1 percent shooting over the last eight games while the 76ers are 10-8 with Meeks averaging 11.1 per game as a starter.

The 76ers, who are 5-15 on the road this season, split two trips to Detroit last season.

Philadelphia will play a seventh straight game without star Andre Iguodala, who is expected to return from a bout with Achilles' tendinitis next week.