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Pistons vs. Rockets preview: Detroit looks to get back to winning ways in Houston

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After losing three of four against tough competition, the Pistons look to get back to winning against a surging Rockets team.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons have lost three of their last four games, their sole win against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Mind you, save a last second Mario Chalmers shot, they would have escaped that brutal stretch having won two and lost two. The Pistons look to get back to their winning ways against a Houston Rockets team who has won six of their last eight games.

Game Vitals

When: Wednesday, January 20th, 2015 at 8:00 PM ET

Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Game Analysis

When these two teams last met to close out the month of November, both teams sported losing records. For the Pistons, that was something familiar to their fans over the last several years. But for a Rockets team still considered to be outside contenders, that was unacceptable. At 8-9, that was the only time all year that the Pistons sported a losing record.

Since that loss, the Rockets have gone 15-10 to get back over .500 and back in the playoff race. During that stretch, they have the seventh best winning percentage. At 13-10 over the same stretch, the Pistons have the ninth best winning percentage.

These teams are pretty evenly matched though they are near opposites. Dwight Howard is the elder statesman to Andre Drummond and as such has had a sub-standard year whereas Drummond is having a career year. James Harden is the second leading scorer in the league while who he is defending often has season best scoring nights, whereas Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is starting to come into his own offensively while holding the opposing team's best players to low scoring nights. The Rockets are second in the league in points off of turnovers, the Pistons are tied for 13th.

Players to Watch

Pistons: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

It is almost reflexive to put Andre Drummond here when dealing with any team that has Andre Drummond Sr., err, I mean Dwight Howard. However, this is the kind of game KCP could really shine. Harden has the 15th worst Defensive Rating of all guards who average 25 minutes or more a night. In the last 10 games, KCP has been the teams second leading scorer at 16.1 a game with a shooting line of 47.2/38.9/80.0. His defense should also frustrate Harden, as Harden only shot 6-15 the last time we met. He did get 17 trips to the line (making 15), but KCP only committed two fouls, so it wasn't him. Most of the foul shots came on good screen and rolls that switched KCP off of Harden.

Rockets: Dwight Howard

This is more due to what he's done lately as compared to it being about him against Drummond. In the Rockets 140-132 overtime loss to the Clippers, Howard scored 36 points and pulled in 26 rebounds. He also shot 14 of 18 free throws. Over the last three weeks, he is averaging 20.6 points and 14.7 rebounds. His 10 straight double-doubles is the longest active streak in the NBA. Drummond will not get the tired Howard he got to begin the season, he'll get a near prime Howard.

Last Time We Met

November 30th, 2015 in Detroit - Pistons 116-105

Reggie Jackson led all scorers with 31 points on 11-18 shooting to go with 8 assists and only two turnovers. Andre Drummond had a 24 point, 13 rebound night despite going 4-for-18 from the free throw line. James Harden lead all rocked with 29 points along with nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Dwight Howard had a slow night due to foul trouble, only scoring eight points and pulling in 10 rebounds.

Starting Lineups

Pistons: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Drummond

Rockets: Patrick Beverley, Harden, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela, Howard

Prediction

Pistons 104, Rockets 102

Community Question

Will KCP outscore Harden?