Pistons-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 25, 2012
Road victories have been difficult to come by for the Detroit Pistons, and the few they've earned have not come against top-tier competition. They're coming off one such win but will visit a much better opponent and a city where they haven't won in nearly five years as they face the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. The Pistons (9-21) had dropped six straight before sweeping a home-and-home series with woeful Washington, winning for only the third time in 16 road contests with Saturday's 96-87 victory. "We just got to continue to build our habits," coach Lawrence Frank said. "It's obviously good to taste wins especially when we've lost a bunch in a row." Charlie Villanueva tied his season high with 19 points Wednesday and Rodney Stuckey added 18 for Detroit, which posted its only other road wins over sub-.500 teams Philadelphia and Cleveland. "It was very important for us to get these two wins and hopefully we carry that momentum into the next game," Villanueva said. "We need to keep playing the way we've been playing as far as locking down on the defensive end and rebounding the ball. We've been doing that well these past couple games." Tayshaun Prince twisted his right ankle when he landed on a defender's foot after a jumper Saturday and sat out practice Monday. He is a game-time decision for this contest, though he hopes the three-day break will provide enough time to heal. "I didn't do anything (in practice), but I should be all right by the game," Prince told the team's official website. Prince was given the night off the last time Detroit faced the Hawks, a 116-84 road loss April 18. The Pistons have averaged 88.3 points in losing eight straight at Atlanta since Feb. 12, 2008. The Hawks (16-9) will be seeking a sixth victory in the last seven overall meetings and are coming off a 92-75 win over Chicago on Saturday. Atlanta had all five starters score in double figures and hit 49.4 percent from the field, playing like a different club than the one that shot 39.2 percent in a 99-80 loss to Philadelphia on Friday. "I wish I had the answer to that, to be perfectly honest," coach Larry Drew said. "I don't care what our strategy is, or what the game plan is. If we don't play with good energy we're not going to be successful. "That's the thing that will have you pulling your hair out ... it was a complete opposite." Al Horford had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who had dropped their previous two home games. "What I've learned with this team is that until we're on the floor and we get going, we really won't know how we're feeling," said Horford, who averaged 8.3 points and shot 25.7 percent in the previous three games. "It's just a matter of us coming out with that energy, and I think our backs were against the wall. We needed to come out strong." Lou Williams added 16 points in his first start since the 2009-10 season, but he may head back to the bench if DeShawn Stevenson (back) can return. Atlanta won three of four meetings with Detroit last season despite Horford missing all of them while recovering from a torn pectoral muscle.
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