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Suns 109, Pistons 101: Defense rests in Detroit's loss in Phoenix

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Brandon Knight. Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Brandon Knight. Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

One thing was plain as day following the 109-101 loss the Detroit Pistons suffered at the hands of the weary Phoenix Suns: the Pistons are desperate for a defensive minded big man.

Steve Nash, who sat out the team's previous game because it was playing back-to-back-to-back, sliced and diced the Pistons with surgical precision all night, finishing with 17 assists. The main beneficiaries were Marcin Gortat, who rolled to the basket with little resistance all night en route to 16 points, and Jared Dudley who was left wide open all night as the Detroit defense scrambled to recover off screens and in the pick and roll. Dudley finished with an easy 23 points, including 4-5 from the three-point line and must have felt like he was shooting in an empty gym he was left wide open so often.

The biggest offender in this mess was Greg Monroe who eventually got benched by a frustrated Lawrence Frank. Monroe sat the entire fourth quarter even though he only played 26 minutes through three. Unfortunately, his offense couldn't make up for his horrid defense and he finished with just 8 points and 9 rebounds on the night.

And with Ben Wallace and Jason Maxiell on the floor throughout the fourth, the Pistons offense really struggled. Late in the game the Suns defenders practically disregarded the two big men as offensive threats and it prevented Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight from being able to penetrate, find open passing lanes or get an open look for themselves.

It was a shame too, because both Stuckey and Knight had another solid game. Stuckey led the way with 23 points on just 13 shots and had eight assists. Knight, meanwhile scored a quick 10 points in the first quarter and finished the game with 17 points, six assists and just two turnovers.

A backcourt delivering 40 points and 14 assists while your team as a whole shoots more than 50 percent should be a winning formula. But the Detroit defense was again simply overmatched. While the Suns were getting open looks all night, the few shots that didn't go in were often rebounded by Phoenix. The suns had a 22-12 advantage in second-chance points.

And when Brook Lopez (14 points) is putting on a clinic on the low block, you know you have big (man) problems. Whether it's addressed via the draft, trade or free agency, a defensive big man remains the one gaping hole in the Pistons lineup.