(SportsNetwork.com) - Ball movement and defense have been key to the success of the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks look to keep their successful reputation intact Sunday in a big showdown with the Southeast-rival Washington Wizards at Philips Arena.
Atlanta has won seven in a row and 21 of their last 23 games, including Friday's 106-103 triumph over the suddenly streaking Detroit Pistons. The Pistons entered the night riding a seven-game win streak, but fell into a big hole early before making a comeback.
Detroit trailed by more than 20 at one point in the game and pulled within 105-101 on a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer. Caldwell-Pope scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and his desperation heave at the buzzer fell short. The Pistons had a chance to tie the game with two seconds left after Al Horford failed to control an inbounds pass.
Horford finished with 19 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, while Paul Millsap netted 17 points with seven boards. Jeff Teague scored 14 points and handed out 11 assists for the Hawks, who are 28-8 on the season and made 48.8 percent from the floor. Teague had scored 20 or more in six straight games.
"This was another test for us, another challenge to see how we're going to react to it, and we're past it," said Millsap.
Atlanta dished out 27 assists and has recorded 25 or more 22 times this season. It is averaging 23.9 assists per game.
The Hawks have won a franchise-record eight in a row on the road and will try to improve their 15-3 record at Philips Arena.
After hosting the rival Wizards, the Hawks will play four straight on the road against Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto and Chicago. The Hawks are allowing just 97.4 ppg and the Wizards are just ahead at 97.0 ppg.
Washington, which is three games behind Atlanta in the division standings, is coming off Friday's 102-86 beatdown of the visiting Chicago Bulls. Toronto, Washington and Chicago are three games off the East lead.
Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 13 rebounds, Bradley Beal added 17 points and John Wall tallied 16 points and 12 assists for the Wizards, winners in three straight, six of nine and 12 of the last 17 games. Wall, who 21 double-doubles on the season, was able to snatch a victory from Bulls guard Derrick Rose.
"You can tell he worked on his game," Rose said of Wall. "Tonight, they jumped on us. It wasn't about the matchup, I would say. They jumped on us pretty quick from the beginning."
The Wizards led 30-13 after 12 minutes and scored 60 points in the first half.
Washington is 9-7 on the road and has lost three of its last four away from home. It will return to DC Tuesday to face the San Antonio Spurs.
Atlanta defeated Washington, 106-102, on Nov. 25, as Teague scored 28 points and Wall countered with 21 and 13 assists. The Wizards have won four of the last six meetings in this series, but are 1-11 in the last 12 trips to Dixie.
The Wizards and Hawks will meet again Feb. 4 and April 12.