After squandering a big lead to lose for the first time on their four-game Western Conference road trip, the Detroit Pistons hope to continue their dominance of the struggling Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night as they conclude the stretch.
The Pistons (41-16), who are 3 1/2 games behind Boston for the best record in the NBA, have won 10 straight against the Clippers (19-37) since losing to them at Staples Center on Nov. 3, 2002. Detroit has won the last four matchups in Los Angeles.
Chauncey Billups scored 23 points to lead the Pistons to a 103-79 home victory over the Clippers on Nov. 9.
Billups, though, may not be available Saturday after he flew back to Detroit for a personal matter, according to the team's official Web site. He is expected to return Saturday, but if he is unavailable, rookie Rodney Stuckey would move into the starting lineup.
Billups made a layup to put the Pistons up 15 with 5:19 to play in the third quarter Wednesday against Utah. Detroit, however, went scoreless until 5:28 to play and lost 103-95 after starting the trip with wins over Phoenix and Denver.
"We're a veteran team. That shouldn't happen to us," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "You have to understand why you got up like that."
Billups finished with 21 points against the Jazz, increasing his season average to 17.6, which ranks him second on the team behind fellow guard Richard Hamilton (18.1).
Hamilton is looking to build on Wednesday's 22-point performance, but he only managed 10 points and as many assists against the Clippers on Nov. 9. He scored 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting in the last meeting at Los Angeles, a 98-80 victory on March 11.
The last-place Clippers are looking to avoid a fifth consecutive loss after falling 110-104 at Denver on Friday.
Rookie Al Thornton was outstanding off the bench in defeat, matching his season high with 33 points while setting another with 12 rebounds.
Thornton is averaging only 11.4 points for the season, but has reached the 20-point mark four times in his last eight games.
Corey Maggette, the team-leader with 22.1 points per game, had 28 on Friday after scoring 32 in an 82-80 loss to Portland two nights earlier. The swingman is averaging 25.9 points in the last 11 contests.
Maggette, who had 19 points against the Pistons on Nov. 9, may be forced to continue carrying the Clippers' scoring load if Chris Kaman misses a fifth straight game due to a left shin contusion.
The injury has been a problem for the center, who is second on the team with 16.2 points per game and third in the NBA with 13.3 rebounds. The injury has sidelined Kaman for nine of the last 17 games, and Los Angeles is 1-8 without him.
Kaman had 25 points in the last matchup at Detroit.