Coming into the fourth and final game of what seemed like a much longer road trip, you had to have at least a speck of concern about the Pistons and how this one would play out. The first place Suns were looking to avenge a loss to New Orleans after having two days rest, while the Pistons just lost a tough overtime game in Utah less than 24 hours ago.
And somewhat surprisingly, the Pistons came out fighting and as competitive as they've been all year in the first 12 minutes. They trailed by just three after the first quarter despite the fact the Suns made their first seven shots and finished the quarter shooting a sizzling 58%. If the Pistons played that well the rest of the game and Phoenix cooled off just a little, the Pistons could have actually defeated the Suns.
Unfortunately, the Suns never cooled off and the Pistons hit a wall en route to their 5th straight loss. Phoenix was not once shooting below 55% for the game and finished at their first quarter pace of 58% while knocking down 11-18 from behind the arc (61%). Detroit's tired team, meanwhile, couldn't keep up with the Suns fast-paced offense and never recovered from the 17-5 run Phoenix put together to end the first and start the second quarter .
Detroit's high scorers were Charlie Villanueva and rookie DaJuan Summers, with 13 points. Will Bynum probably had the Pistons' best game with 11 points on 5-8 shooting, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. It is never good when your best player for the game has just 11 points. The Suns were led by Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash. Stoudemire had a game-high 21 points, five rebounds, and two blocks. Steve Nash finished with 20 points on 7-8 shooting and dished out nine assists.
Random musings after the jump.
- Fans will be quick to point to the absences of Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince to help explain this woeful west coast swing, especially now that the Pistons have lost five straight and fallen to 5-9 on the season. They obviously make the Pistons a better team, but I think the Pistons still lose at least three out of four on this trip with them in the lineup. This wasn't the best time for the new-look Pistons to have their toughest part of the schedule against some teams playing elite basketball. Let's just hope it makes this group mentally tougher for the rest of the season instead of letting it affect them for the worst.
- Nobody should be happier to return home than Rodney Stuckey. He had his fourth straight awful shooting game (4-15) and, even though he shot 15 times, he did not break double-digits in points for the first time all season. He continues to drive wildly to the rim and no matter how many opponents surround him attempts to put up crap. He needs to learn how to drive and dish in those situations because judging from all the guys that surround him, at least two other Pistons are wide open. If he wants to learn how, he can watch the tape from tonight's game and look at what Steve Nash did to the Pistons.
- Ben Gordon got into some early foul trouble and it must have affected his shot. He finished with just 10 points on 3-11 shooting (1-6 from three). He also had four assists and a team-high four turnovers.
- Detroit did fine on the glass. They managed to outrebound the Suns (although by just one) despite Phoenix not providing many rebounding opportunities at all. Detroit did that by hustling out 17 offensive rebounds to Phoenix's nine.
- DaJuan Summers could be buying himself some playing time. This is his second straight noticeably effective game, even if most of his points came in the fourth quarter aka the garbage time tonight.
- Jonas Jerebko is becoming much more comfortable on offense. He was 4-8 and had nine points, which isn't much, but he's visibly more confident. He's starting to post people up and take opponents to the rack when he was more of a catch-and-pass guy early in his starts.
- Chris Wilcox and Jason Maxiell were impressive to me. They had 15 points and 12 rebounds in 36 minutes combined.
- Coach Kuester's post-game press conference courtesy of the Suns SB Nation site, Bright Side of the Sun.
A great quote in there about the Pistons needing to lie to their bodies:
"You have to lie to it and just say ‘hey you got to go’ but unfortunately tonight we didn’t have the juice that we’ve had.”
- Box score