Preview: Suns at Pistons, 4:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
DETROIT — After knocking off the team with the NBA’s worst record on Tuesday night, the Suns move on tackle one of the league’s best and most surprising less than 24 hours later.
The Detroit Pistons caught the attention of the NBA world with a 118-108 victory at Boston on Monday night. Detroit (13-6) has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, but a road win over the team with the league’s best record validates the Pistons’ improvement.
“We know we beat a really, really good team,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We beat a team on their home court who is 18-3. That was just a really good win.”
The Suns (8-14) snapped a three-game losing streak Tuesday by squeaking past Chicago 104-99. They got 33 points from Devin Booker, 25 from T.J. Warren and a big lift off the bench from center Alex Len, who had 13 points and 18 rebounds.
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Len was benched two of the previous three games and made his displeasure known before Tuesday’s game.
“I put in the work hoping to show my skills on the court,” Len told the Arizona Republic. “So when you’re not able to help your team, it’s frustrating.”
Interim coach Jay Triano is trying to juggle playing time at the position among Tyson Chandler, recently acquired Greg Monroe and Len. Some combination of that group will try to slow down Detroit big man Andre Drummond.
Triano also has a dilemma at power forward. He’s trying to dole out minutes among a pair of second-year lottery picks, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, and veteran Jared Dudley. Monroe and Dudley didn’t play Tuesday.
“My challenge is finding ways to get Dragan, Marquese and Jared a space in the rotation right now,” Triano told the Republic. “Those guys have to develop, and the only way to develop is playing in games. But the No. 1 thing is to try to win. If one of those guys is going to help me win, I’m going to figure out a way to get him in the game.”
For Detroit, forward Tobias Harris reached the 30-point mark for the third time in the win over Boston, but Drummond is the player opponents fear the most. He scored a season-high 26 points Monday and also racked up 22 rebounds, six assists and four steals. For the season, Drummond is averaging 14.4 points and a league-best 15.6 rebounds.
“It might be the best game he’s played overall at both ends of the floor since I’ve been here,” Van Gundy said.
Detroit shredded Boston’s normally stout defense, shooting 51.8 percent overall and 44.0 percent from long range while committing only eight turnovers. The Celtics also shot a high percentage but turned it over 17 times, leading to 26 Pistons points.
“I thought from an offensive standpoint that is the best we have played all year, relative to that’s the best defensive team in the league and we were able to consistently get good shots,” Van Gundy said. “Even the stretch we hit where we couldn’t score in the second quarter, we were just missing shots. We were able to get quality shots on a pretty consistent basis against a great defensive team.”