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76ers-Pistons Preview

Nov 8, 2009 - 2:36 AM By DAN PIERINGER STATS Editor

Philadelphia (3-2) at Detroit (2-4), 1:00 p.m. EDT

The Detroit Pistons spent a lot of money to bring in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in the offseason. Injuries to the team's two longest-tenured players, however, have negated the impact of the newcomers during Detroit's worst start in nearly a decade.

The Pistons again could be without Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince on Sunday when they host the Philadelphia 76ers.

Detroit (2-4) has dropped four of its first six for the first time since 2000-01, and the slow start is due in large part to injuries to Hamilton and Prince.

Hamilton, the Pistons' leading scorer each of the last seven seasons, hasn't played since spraining his right ankle in a season-opening win at Memphis. He remains day-to-day, and his availability for Sunday is uncertain.

Prince had played in 496 consecutive games before sitting out Tuesday against Orlando. The Pistons said Saturday the veteran forward will be out of the lineup indefinitely because of a small rupture of a disc in his lower back.

The injuries have overshadowed a strong start by Gordon, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract over the summer after five seasons with the Bulls. Gordon has averaged 24.2 points in his first six games with Detroit.

Villanueva, Gordon's college teammate at Connecticut for one season, didn't get off to as quick a start with his new club. However, the versatile forward scored 22 of his season-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Pistons close in a 110-103 loss at Orlando on Friday night.

"I got a little bit in the zone once I made a few shots," said Villanueva, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract after spending the previous three seasons with Milwaukee. "I just wanted the ball constantly. (I) just made some good shots and all I did was try to give us a chance to win."

Detroit could need big performances from both Gordon and Villanueva to keep up with Philadelphia, which outscored New Jersey 29-21 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 97-94 home victory Friday night.

Philadelphia shot 50.0 percent from the field and had four players score in double figures, but it was just enough to barely defeat a winless Nets team.

"I wish we could have played better," said Andre Iguodala, who had 16 points and made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:02 left that put the 76ers on top for good. "We'll still take the win. It counts."

The Sixers (3-2) have won four of their last five regular-season meetings with the Pistons, including two of three at The Palace of Auburn Hills. These teams also met in the 2008 playoffs, with Detroit winning the first-round series in six games.

Iguodala, averaging 21.0 points and shooting 50.8 percent from the field after a subpar performance in the season opener, averaged 24.0 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent as Philadelphia took two of three from Detroit last season.

Rodney Stuckey was the Pistons' most effective player in the 2008-09 series, averaging 18.3 points and 5.0 assists while going 19 for 37 (51.4 percent) from the field.

Gordon and Villanueva averaged 18.0 and 16.0 points, respectively, against Philadelphia last season.