The Detroit Pistons defeated the Phoenix Suns, 118-98, starting their four-game west coast road trip off on the correct foot. Blake Griffin, returning to the lineup after three full days of rest, scored 17 points on 17 shots (11 of which were three-point attempts), Andre Drummond had 16 points and 19 rebounds, and Wayne Ellington poured in six threes on his way to 23 points.
The Pistons did a nice job slowing Devin Booker after he had a strong first half (15 points in the first quarter, but 26 for the game); Thon Maker and Andre came out to trap him, forcing the ball out of his hands and forcing Phoenix’s other, less talented players to beat them. Deandre Ayton scored 20 points on 12 shots and Mikal Bridges scored 13 for the Suns.
The Pistons were given a ton of open three-point looks by the Suns’ defense, and they took advantage, shooting 40.5 percent from three for the game. That looks even better when you see Blake himself was 2-11 from three.
The other running subplot of this game was the very tight officiating: For the Pistons, Bruce Brown Jr. and Langston Galloway (the two main guys who were defending Booker) both had five fouls while Blake, Andre, and Luke Kennard had four fouls (including a ridiculous second-quarter sequence where Luke and Troy Daniels traded off-ball offensive fouls for what felt like two full minutes). For Phoenix, Ayton, Daniels, and Dragan Bender had five fouls, and Josh Jackson (who had a scary fall in the second half and did not return to the game) had four fouls. So much foul trouble on both sides meant that both teams were compelled to use their bench, and the Pistons’ bench outclassed the Suns’ bench extensively.
After a rough loss in Cleveland, it was good to see Detroit come out and put the second-half clamps on a team they are more talented than. As they arrive in the home stretch of the season, every win pushes them deeper into the playoff picture. Now a full game up on the Brooklyn Nets, two games up on the Miami Heat, and three and a half games up on the ninth-place Orlando Magic, the Pistons remain in control of their own playoff destiny. Just keep winning games, starting with Saturday in Portland, and they’re in.