Having thrived against losing clubs and on the road this season, the Atlanta Hawks would seem to have a good chance of continuing their recent surge as they visit the struggling Detroit Pistons.
The Hawks, though, haven't earned many victories at The Palace of Auburn Hills recently, as they'll be trying to win there for only the second time in 11 games Tuesday night.
The Hawks (16-9) are 11-3 versus teams with losing records, though they've also beaten a couple of clubs that were above .500 during their current 8-2 run, which has followed a 2-7 stretch.
At 8-4, the Hawks are off to their best start away from home since moving to Atlanta in 1968. They are also 5-2 without leading scorer Joe Johnson, who is not expected to return from elbow surgery until next month.
Forward Josh Smith overcame a cramping hamstring to help Atlanta beat Indiana 97-83 on Saturday night. Smith, who left in the fourth quarter of a loss to San Antonio the previous night, scored 21 points and added seven rebounds and four assists.
"He came up with huge plays then defensively did a great job," coach Larry Drew said. "When he's playing like that and flying around, it makes us a much more effective team."
Jamal Crawford paced the Hawks with 25 points as he topped the 20 mark for the third straight game. Center Al Horford added 16 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high eight assists.
Crawford sat out the first matchup of the season with the Pistons on Nov. 3 due to turf toe. Smith had 22 points and 11 boards to help make up for his absence during a 94-85 home victory, which dropped Detroit to 0-5.
Things haven't gotten much better for the Pistons, as they've lost 12 of 15 and are on the verge of matching that season-high skid. Their fourth consecutive defeat Saturday against Toronto was particularly disheartening.
Detroit (7-18) scored 43 points in the second quarter and led 99-83 going into the fourth after going up by 25 in the third period. The Pistons, though, were outscored 37-17 in the final 12 minutes of a 120-116 home loss.
"We just self-destructed. I don't know how else to explain this," forward Tayshaun Prince said. "I don't know what the carry-over from a game like this might be. I've never been a part of a game like this before."
A home matchup with Atlanta might provide the right opportunity for Prince's team to bounce back. Although the Pistons have dropped six of eight overall matchups, they have gone 26-4 in their last 30 home games against with the Hawks.
Despite finishing 27-55 last season, Detroit won both meetings at The Palace, limiting Atlanta to 88 points each time. The Hawks have averaged 88.1 points during their 1-9 road stretch in the series.
Ben Gordon scored 22 points in the last meeting at The Palace on April 7, a 90-88 Pistons win, and matched that total Nov. 3. The guard, though, has totaled 13 points and taken 11 shots combined in Detroit's last two games.