DETROIT -- The mayor of Detroit showed up at the Wizards team hotel last night. Dave Bing is the citys top elected official and is also a former star with the Pistons and Washington Bullets. Bings presence was not a sign of the significance of tonights game, although the Wizards play a Pistons team that has won four straight games.
Instead, Bing was at the hotel to have dinner with his former teammate and now Comcast SportsNet analyst Phil Chenier. While tonights match-up between the Wizards and Pistons will not receive any special mayoral proclamations, it is a critical game for two teams trying to build confidence and find consistency.
The Pistons public address announcer, John Mason, still shouts the elongated Deeeeeee-troiit basketball, but their consecutive sellout streak is over. Times have changed at The Palace at Auburn Hills. Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups were among the last of the old Pistons to leave.
Things are starting to stir in the right direction for the Pistons. Over the last nine days, the Pistons have recorded half of their eight wins and are on a four-game winning streak. Four of the Pistons five starters are averaging double figures in scoring. Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko come off the bench and average in double figures to give the Pistons six players with 10 or more points per game.
Jason Maxiell is the only Pistons starter not in double-figure scoring, but he is there to help establish a defensive presence early in games. Maxiell helps form an impressive power partnership with starting center and former Georgetown star Greg Monroe, who is averaging 16.5 points and 10 rebounds. Jerebko then comes off the bench to replace Maxiell and gives the Pistons points out of the power forward position.
For the Wizards, there is no Pacific Ocean in sight, but tonights game is the start of a five-game western road trip. It is cliche, but true that it is important to play well at the start of a long road trip. With travel and a back-to-back set looming midweek with the Trail Blazers and Clippers, the journey is not going to get any easier.
It was encouraging on Friday night to see the Wizards place four of their starters in double digits in scoring. JaVale McGee at times still tried to force shots that were not there, but more importantly jumped back in the offensive flow with 24 points against the Heat. McGee seemed to need a confidence boosting game.
Trevor Bookers return to the starting lineup has produced results consistent with a player with his work ethic. Over the last five games, Booker is averaging 13.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks. Bookers offensive work not only includes his ferocious put-back slams, but also under-control drives to the baskets finished by either layups or floaters in the lane.
The Wizards will be looking for their first win at The Palace since Jan. 26, 2007.