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Prince leads five double-digit Detroit scorers

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns have lost as many
games in the past week as they had all season.

Tayshaun Prince scored a career-high 26 points to lead the
Detroit Pistons past slumping Phoenix 94-80 on Monday, handing the
NBA-leading Suns their fourth straight loss.

After opening the season 31-4, Phoenix went 0-4 on its road
trip.

"It's time to go home," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It has
been a tough road trip. Obviously, they beat us on the boards; beat
us all day; beat us up; beat us in anything you want to talk about.

"When you are a middleweight and they are a heavyweight and you
cannot run around the ring, they are going to catch you and pound
you and that's what they did to us," he said.

Prince deflected praise for his best offensive game in the NBA
as if he were swatting a shot with his long, lanky arms.

"I definitely have to credit my teammates, especially the guys
inside," said Prince, who scored on an assortment of dunks,
runners, mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer. "When they play that
way, it just opens things up."

Prince has averaged 20.3 points in his last three games, about
eight above his average, and made the game-winning shot Saturday
against Philadelphia. In five of the last 13 games, the third-year
player known for his defense has scored at least 18 points.

"The last three weeks, he has had a stretch as good as any
young player is going to have," Pistons coach Larry Brown said.

The Suns found out -- again -- just how valuable Steve Nash is to
their team.

They were held to a season-low point total, clearly missing
Nash, who was sidelined for a second consecutive game with a
bruised left thigh. The point guard hopes to play Wednesday at home
against Memphis.

"Obviously, their team is different without Steve Nash,"
Detroit guard Chauncey Billups said. "But I just thought we played
good."

The defending-champion Pistons are headed in the opposite
direction, with six victories in a row -- and 11 of 13 -- to move a
half-game ahead of idle Cleveland for first place in the Central
Division.

"Hopefully, we can stay at this level and continue to get
better," Billups said.

Joe Johnson led the Suns with 17 points. Amare Stoudemire scored
16 and Quentin Richardson had 13.

The Pistons built a 16-point lead in the first quarter with a
21-6 run and didn't have much trouble maintaining a cushion the
rest of the game.

Detroit's Richard Hamilton scored 16 points, Rasheed Wallace and
Antonio McDyess each had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Ben Wallace added 11 points and 15 rebounds.

When Detroit wasn't scoring easy baskets in transition off
turnovers, it was getting second and third chances to score in
half-court situations thanks to relentless rebounding. Late in the
second quarter, the Pistons had 17 points off 12 offensive rebounds
-- one more rebound than Phoenix had at both ends of the court
combined.

"We can win games without me, but not when we give up that many
offensive rebounds," Nash said. "We just have to get back to
playing the way we were playing before, and we will. It's a long
season and things like this happen."

The Pistons outrebounded Phoenix 57-41 and had 13 more offensive
rebounds.

"That was huge," Brown said.

Detroit led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter before
coasting in the fourth, allowing the Suns to make the final score
look more respectable.

Game notes
The Suns' previous season-low point total was 83 Friday
night in an 18-point loss at Indiana. ... Prince's previous career
high was 25 points, last year against Orlando. ... Nash has missed
just six games in the last four years. ... R&B singer Brandy,
Richardson's fiancee, had a front-row seat. ...Ben Wallace had at
least 10 rebounds for the ninth straight game.