NBA Basketball: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards - Wiz Favored
The two top teams in the Eastern Conference meet for the fourth and final time this season Tuesday night when the Wizards play at the Verizon Center for the first time since their 10-game home winning streak was snapped.
Oddsmakers have made Washington -2 point spread favorites
Detroit (25-17) is a half-game behind Washington (26-17) in the East standings. The Pistons beat the Wizards twice in the first month of the season, including a 115-111 road victory Nov. 25.
The Wizards responded with a 99-96 win at The Palace on Friday to take over the top spot in the East. Antawn Jamison scored a season-high 35 points for Washington.
"That was a heavyweight fight," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "We took a Joe Frazier left hook, and we got right up.
"I know they are going to be ready for a rematch. Just because we're up in the standings, we are not the champions of the East. They've been the champions and we are always going to be the hunter, not the hunted."
The Wizards didn't suffer a letdown after the big effort against Detroit, pulling away for a 105-91 victory at Boston on Sunday for their sixth win in seven games. Jamison had 34 points for Washington, which outscored Boston 57-41 in the second half.
"We really took this game more serious than we did the Detroit game," said Jamison, who has posted back-to-back 30-point effort for the first time since March 25-27, 2006.
The only loss for Washington in the last seven contests was to Phoenix, 127-105 on Tuesday that ended its home winning streak. The Wizards have won eight straight home games against Eastern Conference opponents since the loss to Detroit.
The Pistons bounced back from Friday's defeat with a 95-87 victory over Indiana on Sunday. Rasheed Wallace scored 20 points and Chris Webber added 17 and 13 rebounds for his second double-double for Detroit.
The Pistons are 4-1 since Webber was moved into the starting lineup last week. He's averaging 13.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in that span.
"Even if I'm not over the rim dunking like I used to be, I think my production can be the same," he said. "I was fortunate to watch Karl Malone and some other guys as they got older, and they got even harder to check, because now they were always thinking two or three steps ahead."
Coach Flip Saunders is aware that Webber has adjusted his game because of age and injuries, and thinks the veteran has clearly given Detroit a spark.
"Great players, they all have the ability to adapt their game," Saunders said. "A certain skill maybe changes. He's not the athlete that he maybe was but now he's got so much to his game down there."
Detroit has won four of six since Chauncey Billups returned to the lineup in Webber's debut Jan. 17. The Pistons dropped five of eight while Billups was out with a calf injury.
Billups is a major reason why Detroit has been able to limit Washington star guard Gilbert Arenas to a low shooting percentage this season. Arenas is averaging 24.3 points, but shooting under 39 percent in the first three meetings with the Pistons.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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