Time is running out for the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns as they continue to try to move into the top eight of their respective conferences.
A matchup between these teams in Phoenix appears to benefit the Suns more in their quest for a playoff berth.
The Suns look to extend their home winning streak in the series to six Friday night while sending Detroit to its first 12-game road skid in 21 years.
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Phoenix (39-29) is in ninth place in the West, 1 1/2 games behind both Memphis and Dallas as it tries to reach the postseason for the first time since losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 conference finals.
The Pistons (25-42) have even more ground to make up as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, trailing eighth-place Atlanta by 6 1/2 games in the East.
The Suns appear to be back on track after a rough stretch, winning three of four following seven losses in 10 contests. They returned from a three-game eastern trip to beat Orlando 109-93 on Wednesday behind a late 23-3 run.
"I told them to just get after it and go take the team if you want to be a playoff team, and that’s what they did," coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Goran Dragic scored 18 points to lead five Suns in double figures and Gerald Green added 14, including three 3-pointers during the outburst. All 13 active players saw the court, with 12 of them scoring.
"We got everybody minutes. Again, guys are a little tired and banged up," Hornacek told the Suns’ official website. "Games like this can really help us in terms of being really rested going forward."
Phoenix is in the top 10 in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 37.2 percent, and is 22 for 48 (45.8) in its last two wins. Green is among the league leaders with 169 made 3s, and he’s 12 for 20 from long range over the last three games.
The Suns hit 13 3s in the first matchup this season with Detroit, but Green went 1 for 7 and missed from beyond the arc at the buzzer of a 110-108 loss Jan. 11.
Josh Smith’s driving bank shot with 1.2 seconds left gave the Pistons the win in that meeting. He had 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Smith wasn’t around to see the end of Detroit’s 13th loss in 16 games Wednesday after picking up two technical fouls and getting ejected midway through the third quarter.
The Pistons were already short-handed with center Andre Drummond out with a neck injury, but they managed to keep it close before faltering down the stretch of a 118-109 defeat to Denver in the opener of a four-game western swing.
"If you want to be a good defensive team you have to have multiple efforts," coach John Loyer said. "We had spurts where we had multiple efforts. But, to win on the road you have to have multiple efforts for 48 minutes; especially when it is a six-point game down the stretch."
Detroit hasn’t dropped 12 in a row away from home since Jan. 5-March 5, 1993.
The Pistons have scored just 88.4 per game in dropping five straight at Phoenix.