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The worst of East meets the best of West as Pistons take on Suns

The Detroit Pistons have the worst record in the Eastern Conference but are showing improvement with stellar back-to-back road wins.

Detroit is now seeking its first three-game winning streak since the end of last season when it visits the Western Conference’s top-ranked Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

Stuck on a seven-game losing streak, the Pistons were down 10-0 before earning a 110-108 win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday and adding a 125-116 win over the Utah Jazz a night later.

Detroit is saddled with a 5-15 record, but back-to-back road wins provided a big boost.

“Our solidarity gave us additional energy,” said striker Bojan Bogdanovic after the victory over Jazz. “It was a big win (Tuesday) night and gave us a lot of confidence and we played a great game once again.”

Bogdanovic scored 22 points against Denver and 23 against Utah. He played the last three seasons for the Jazz before being loaned out to the Pistons in the offseason.

Bogdanovic has been a huge hit with Detroit, scoring 20 or more points in five straight games and seven of the last eight. The 33-year-old averages 20.7 points per game.

The Pistons are thriving despite not having a pro sophomore Cade Cunningham (shin) in their last eight games. There is no timeline for the No. 1 draft pick to return in 2021.

Saddiq Bey (ankle) flew back to Detroit for treatment and will miss his fourth straight game. Isaiah Stewart (toe) will sit out the sixth game in a row.

Also, Killian Hayes (Wade) was injured against the Jazz and is unlikely to be available against the Suns.

Regardless, Detroit led Utah by as much as 14 points and had 24 assists against just seven turnovers.

“Ball movement,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. “We probably only had two possessions where we over-dribbled. … The ball movement beats any rotation in the league.”

The Suns will be without one of the best ball handlers in the sport’s history as Chris Paul (heel) was ruled out for the eighth straight game.

Phoenix have gone 4-3 without Paul, including two home wins over the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week.

The straight wins were the first since the Suns went on a five-game winning streak on November 4.

Deandre Ayton said Phoenix aren’t worried about where the record is after 17 games. He said the Suns are thinking of bigger things after losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals two seasons ago and being beaten in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks last season.

“We’re not really playing hard to get you to quit. We just play hard,” Ayton said after Tuesday’s 115-105 win over the Lakers. “Because we have a bigger agenda. This team has been embarrassing us for the last two years playing the best basketball we have ever played and never finishing. …

“We look at the better picture. We are fighting for something much bigger than that.”

Ayton had 14 points and 15 rebounds against the Lakers while Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges had 25 points each.

Cameron Payne, who has surpassed 20 points four times since Paul was injured, had just 11 on 5-of-15 shooting.

Landry Shamet (concussion) will miss his seventh straight competition.

The Suns have won the last three meetings after Detroit prevailed in the previous eight.

– Field level media

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