Defense is one of the biggest reasons the Chicago Bulls are still atop the Eastern Conference despite an injury to the reigning league MVP.
Not surprising, the offensively challenged Detroit Pistons have regularly struggled against the Central Division leaders.
The Bulls, who again expect to be without Derrick Rose, look to win their 14th straight over the Pistons on Friday night at the United Center.
Chicago (41-11) is second in the NBA in scoring defense at 88.9 points per game, and with a 98-77 win over Atlanta on Wednesday, improved to 27-0 when limiting opponents to 91 or fewer points.
Detroit (18-32), one of the league's lowest-scoring teams at 89.9 per game, has accounted for two of those Bulls victories.
In their most recent meeting Jan. 9, Chicago limited the Pistons to 39.4 percent shooting in a 92-68 home win. The Bulls also won at Detroit 99-83 five days earlier and have taken 13 straight in the series since Dec. 23, 2008.
The run is Chicago's longest active winning streak over a team, and Detroit's longest current losing streak to an opponent.
Luol Deng has been a non-factor in this season's two meetings, combining for six points on 3-of-18 shooting, but he's helped carry Chicago with Rose sidelined due to a groin problem.
Deng had a game-high 22 points and went 5 of 8 from 3-point range Wednesday, helping the Bulls move to 13-1 when the All-Star forward scores at least 21.
He got plenty of help against the Hawks, as Carlos Boozer scored 20 and Taj Gibson added 19 points off the bench. Chicago, which played its eighth straight game without Rose, has won six of those and is 13-5 without its star point guard this season.
"I think we have the right guys -- it starts there," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The attitude and approach of the team is excellent. These guys, they do a great job of coming ready. Even when we're not playing well they're determined the next time to get it right. When you have guys like that, it allows your team to improve."
The Bulls, one of the league's top rebounding teams at 45.9 per game, clamped down late Wednesday and kept Atlanta from making a run. Chicago held the Hawks to 35 second-half points and outrebounded them 45-36 overall.
"The important thing is to stay together, keep working and when things aren't going our way we can count on our defense and our rebounding," Thibodeau said.
That may spell trouble for a Detroit team that is struggling offensively, even by its own meager standards.
The Pistons failed to score more than 79 points over a three-game stretch before an 87-75 win over Cleveland on Wednesday. Tayshaun Prince matched a season high with 29 points and Brandon Knight scored 16 for Detroit, which held the Cavaliers to an opponent season-low 34.5 percent shooting.
"It all starts with defense," Knight said, "so as long as we get stops we'll continue to build."
The Pistons have won back-to-back games after losing five straight, but making it three in a row at the United Center, where the Bulls are 20-5, won't be easy. Detroit has lost 11 straight in Chicago, with the last four defeats coming by an average of 20.0 points.
Making matters worse, the Pistons could be without starting guard Rodney Stuckey and backup Ben Gordon due to injuries. Stuckey, who hurt his left hamstring Wednesday, averages a team-best 16.1 points while Gordon averages 12.3.