Detroit and Phoenix were tied 52-52 at the half, and the Suns pulled ahead early in the third with a 14-4 run. The Pistons made a couple of runs, but for the longest time it looked like they just wouldn't get over the hump.
With the Pistons down eight points heading into the final quarter well after midnight, I'm sure a lot of fans turned off the game and called it a night. Those that did missed a 37-point outburst, with the Pistons finally regaining the lead (for the first time since late in the second quarter) with less than a minute left on the clock.
All the starters finished with at least 15 points. Rip Hamilton struggled for much of the game, but he scored 11 points in the final 7 1/2 minutes -- dude just flipped a switch and started hitting long jumper after long jumper, finishing with 18 points. Rasheed Wallace (16 points) came up huge with a pair of treys in the fourth. Chauncey Billups was red-hot early in the game and came through as usual late, finishing with 27 points and 11 assists. Ben Wallace had a handful of ferocious dunks and finished with 15 points and 16 boards. Tayshaun Prince finished with 18 points and five assists.
As for the bench, Carlos Arroyo played about 13 minutes with little to show for it. Carlos Delfino got into the game in the second quarter, played seven minutes and finished with four points on 2-3 shooting. Alas, no Darko sightings.
As for the Suns, too often it was Steve Nash and no one else, but there was a long stretch when Leandro Barbosa was flat-out killing Detroit. Barbosa finished with 21 points in 21 minutes on 8-12 shooting, but luckily didn't play the final six minutes or so. Checking his game log, he had 23 points in 24 minutes in his last game. Watch this guy. Any fantasy players out there also might want to check out Boris Diaw -- he's averaging 6.2 assists in five games (including six in Friday's game), which isn't bad considering he's yet to play 30 minutes in a game.
Aside from that stumbling block early in the third quarter, the Pistons kept up with the Suns the entire game, playing some real solid defense down the stretch. They were widely criticized for ugly play in the playoffs last year, but this is a really fun team to watch right now. Only 12 fast break points on Thursday (they entered the game averaging more than 17), but they scored 100-plus for the fourth time in five games, and this was the first time their opponent broke 90.
I don't want to jinx them, but it's too obvious not to point it out: at 5-0, Detroit is the only undefeated team in the league. Hopefully that distinction will provide a bit of a boost in Friday's match against the 2-2 Blazers.
Detroit 11, Phoenix 104 box score [USATODAY.com]