After an impressive road winning streak recently ended against the Eastern Conference’s top team, the Detroit Pistons hope to begin a new one against a pair of clubs which are scuffling at home.
Opening a quick trip of games on back-to-back nights, the Pistons seek an eighth victory in nine road games Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks – losers in six of seven at the Bradley Center.
Detroit has won 12 of 15 after a 128-118 home victory over Orlando on Wednesday. The Pistons are now a factor in the postseason chase after sitting in 13th place and seven games back of the East’s final playoff spot on Dec. 21.
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Tom Gores said it’s the most encouraging stretch the team has had since he took over as owner in 2011.
"I feel like I was brought in as a new owner to deliver something, and I feel like I’m at least delivering a part of what fans expect," he said. "I’m really proud of this team, the way they’re fighting. I’m proud of (coach Stan Van Gundy) for not giving up."
Two of Detroit’s three losses during this hot stretch have come against East-leading Atlanta, including Monday’s 93-82 defeat that denied the Pistons (17-26) a franchise-record eighth consecutive road victory. A similar streak isn’t out of the question considering the only one of their five road games before the All-Star break against an above-.500 team comes Sunday at slumping Toronto, which has lost four of six at home.
Detroit had one of its worst offensive performances in its last road game, shooting 35.4 percent against the Hawks, but bounced back with one of their best Wednesday with a season high in points while shooting 52.1 percent.
Andre Drummond had 26 points and 17 rebounds, Greg Monroe added 24 and 10, and Brandon Jennings scored 24 with a career-high 21 assists. Jennings was the first player with at least 20 points and 20 assists since Phoenix’s Steve Nash on Nov. 9, 2009.
The former Milwaukee guard missed the last two meetings with the Bucks – both in November – due to a sprained thumb, and Detroit dropped both as part of a 13-game losing streak overall. The Pistons has won four of the other five meetings, including the first one this season, since Milwaukee traded Jennings to Detroit as he averaged 19.4 points and 9.4 assists.
The Bucks (21-21) have a 2-6 home record since Dec. 22, but one of those wins came in London against New York. They’ve followed that victory with back-to-back losses on a three-game homestand that concludes Saturday.
In its last six games at the Bradley Center, Milwaukee has averaged 93.0 points – 5.2 less than its overall mark. The Bucks missed their last five shots of Thursday’s 101-99 loss to Utah.
"This has been happening to us, losing these home games," guard Jared Dudley said. "We understand we don’t have a huge home-court advantage because we’ve got to win fans over, keep winning, keep playing hard, and that will come."
Dudley and Brandon Knight finished with 16 points apiece for the Bucks, who have lost Jabari Parker and Kendall Marshall to season-ending injuries and Larry Sanders to a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.
Knight, acquired in the Jennings deal, totaled 37 points in the first two meetings with the Pistons before scoring a season-low six in the most recent matchup.
Drummond has put up a combined 49 points and 30 boards in the past two meetings, though Detroit was outrebounded 94-75 in those defeats.