If the 76ers played the Detroit Pistons more often, the organization's tanking to get a high draft pick might be in jeopardy.

The Sixers never trailed after the 47.3-second mark of the first quarter in beating the Pistons, 94-83, Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center for only their 16th win of the season.

Three have come against Detroit, which is also the team the Sixers snapped their 27-game losing streak against last season. They won four of their last five meetings dating from 2013-14.

So why do the Sixers (16-52) have the Pistons' number?

"I actually don't know," said center Nerlens Noel, who had 11 points and three blocked shots before leaving the game with a right-foot bruise with 4 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in third quarter.

"It's just that we come and we play hard," Noel added. "They play pretty hard themselves. I just think that we caught them on a good game where we were just clicking. Coming off the loss to Boston, we just wanted to step it up defensively.

"We came in with a defensive mind-set, stopped them, and scored the ball."

The Sixers had 12 steals, blocked 10 shots, and held Detroit to 33 percent shooting en route to snapping a two-game losing streak. The Pistons (24-44) lost for the 11th time in 12 games.

Noel's injury was a slight scare.

Detroit's 300-plus-pound center Andre Drummond stepped on the big toe of Noel's right foot as they both landed after a play.

"I'm just a little sore," Noel said. "It's getting better, though . . . I'll play on Friday. I will be good."

Sixers coach Brett Brown said Noel could have returned after his injury. Instead, the team opted to give reserve Furkan Aldemir some minutes.

Ish Smith took up the slack in Noel's absence. The point guard finished with team highs of 15 points and eight assists in his second start since being acquired by the Sixers on Feb. 22.

Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson had his first career triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 10 assists, and 11 rebounds. But he also shot 4 for 17 and had five turnovers.

The Sixers won by playing stellar defense from the start - something they typically don't do.

Going into the game, they were ranked 26th in the NBA in points per possession allowed in the first quarter. By contrast, they ranked first in that category in the second half.

As a way to erase the slow starts, Brown started Smith at point guard and JaKarr Sampson at small forward. The duo joined regular starters Jason Richardson, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Noel in the lineup.

This combination played nothing like the one that trailed, 38-18, after one quarter to the Celtics on Monday. Boston shot 66.7 percent (16 for 24) in that quarter.

In this game, the Sixers held the Pistons to 34.8 percent shooting (8-for-23) en route to leading, 24-21, after one quarter.

The Sixers went on to extend their lead to 15 points in the fourth quarter.

"We feel like if we can just zoom in and start games well, who knows what can happen?" Brown said. "With our length and our overall commitment to trying to play better defense, [it] really affected their shooters.

"I think defensively we locked in and started the game well. With the exception of how we ended the third period, I have no complaints throughout the course of the game."