The Phoenix Suns likely will be without their top scorer once again when they face the Pistons on Saturday night in Detroit. Another starter's status is in question, too.
Devin Booker is expected to miss his 21st consecutive game due to a left groin strain, though he ramped up his on-court work this week.
"I'm just mindful of what I say because I don't want to get everybody excited about it or depress everybody either, but we do feel like he's getting closer and closer to coming back," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "But I wouldn't say (he'll play this weekend). That's just the way I view it, just based on what I'm getting from the workouts and conditioning and all of that."
Forward Cameron Johnson sat out Phoenix's 106-94 road win over the Boston Celtics on Friday due to what the team described as right knee injury management.
"We're just trying to bring him along the best way we can," Williams said. "It was just part of the plan."
The Suns still beat the team with the league's best record behind a strong defensive effort. The Celtics were held to 38.7 percent shooting from the field and 26.3 percent from 3-point range.
Mikal Bridges led Phoenix's offense with 25 points. The Suns have won seven of their past nine games.
"Whoever we have on the court, everyone is capable of making a play and finding plays for each other," Bridges said in a postgame TV interview.
Phoenix's Chris Paul had 15 points and eight assists, while Dario Saric supplied his first double-double since March 2020 with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Detroit will also be playing the tail end of a back-to-back set. The Pistons pulled out a 118-112 home victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday despite committing 23 turnovers that led to 30 Hornets points.
"Wasn't pretty but we got the win," Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. "The thing that kicked out butt was the turnovers. ... We take care of that, we're really executing and doing a good job offensively."
Jaden Ivey led the Pistons with 24 points and seven assists.
"I'm grateful that we got the win tonight," Ivey said. "We've got some things to clean up. We'll clean it up (Saturday). We've got another game (Saturday)."
It was an eventful week for the Pistons. They lost in Dallas on Monday night, then got stuck there until Thursday afternoon due to poor weather conditions and mechanical issues with their plane. Their scheduled home game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday was postponed.
"Just shows our resiliency," Ivey said. "We've had a horrible week as far as traveling, and we still have to show up every single day and work our butts off."
With the score tied at 112 on Friday, Detroit's Saddiq Bey hit a corner 3-pointer with 32 seconds left. Bey finished with 22 points off the bench.
Rookie center Jalen Duren continued to impress with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Detroit will be seeking its first pair of consecutive wins since Nov. 22-23, when it defeated the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz on the road.
The Suns won the first meeting with the Pistons 108-102 on Nov. 25 in Phoenix. Deandre Ayton led the way with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
--Field Level Media