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Are the Pistons this bad?

There was cause for celebration in Detroit on Tuesday night – well, the celebrating more was in Washington, because that’s where the Pistons beat the Wizards 99-90 to end their 13-game losing streak (10 of them by double digits). That spared the current Pistons the ignominy of tying the franchise-record losing streak of 14 set twice. Maybe we shouldn’t read too much of it, however, as now a full 25 percent of Detroit’s wins this season have come against Washington.

Entering play Thursday, Detroit is last in the Central Division and has a better record than only the Nets, Warriors and Timberwolves. So on the surface, it appears that GM Joe Dumars’ decision to trade Chauncey Billups early last year and use that cap room (off Allen Iverson’s contract) for Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva was a massive failure – sort of like Dumars taking Darko Milicic over Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, but that’s another story.

Villanueva has been a fairly decent-sized bust. He had 23 points and nine rebounds on 9-for-13 shooting in that win over Washington – it was his first 20-plus-point game since Dec. 12, which was the date of Detroit’s last victory. Gordon, meanwhile, has been pretty solid when he plays. But he has played in only 25 games so far with various injuries.

But don’t bail yet on these Pistons. We’re not saying they will even make the playoffs, but they should start to become competitive because injuries are mostly to blame for where this team is. And this kind of thing does have a way of evening out (unless you are a Clippers top draft pick).

Villanueva is showing signs he's getting better, averaging 15.4 points over the last five, even with a four-point performance. Richard Hamilton is back after missing 25-plus games and Tayshaun Prince, who also has missed 25-plus, is slowly making his way back. Of course, now guard Will Bynum is hurt as well.

Reportedly the Pistons are trying to peddle either Hamilton or Prince for a big man, notably Utah’s Carlos Boozer. But the Jazz want nothing to do with contracts that last beyond this season. A big body would definitely help as this team is perimeter-heavy.

But the time is now for the Pistons to save their season and perhaps for bettors to make some money off of them. Eight of their next nine games, beginning Friday night against New Orleans, are at home. And Detroit is still only 4 ½ games out of the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, so the players still have plenty of motivation. Despite being horrible, Detroit is 16-20-1 ATS, which isn’t too bad considering. The Pistons are 8-9 at home (also ATS), meaning they should at least be able to win half their games on this big home run and be competitive in all of them. And they are likely to be dogs in several of the games, so the value should be there.

Of course, this being the Pistons, Gordon, Prince and Bynum all are questionable to dress versus the Hornets on Friday night.

David: Inside the Paint - Tuesday
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