Well, that was not enjoyable.
The Detroit Pistons, the princes of playing good teams close, were not able to live up to their early-season reputation in Phoenix on Friday. It was one of those nights where it felt like everybody just... stunk. It’s not even that the Suns were that good.
The Pistons just played poorly.
Phoenix used a 30-9 run in the first half to jump out to a double-digit lead and never looked back, beating the Pistons 109-92.
Playing with Derrick Rose and Wayne Ellington, the Detroit offense was punchless for much of the night. The Suns held them under 40% shooting as only Isaiah Stewart (5/6 shooting) and Mason Plumlee (5/10 shooting) shot over 50% from the field. When your scoring-challenged centers are your most efficient scorers, it was probably a bad night.
Stewart was probably the best Pistons player tonight. He scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots, notching his second career double-double, while showing off a nice pick-and-roll connection with Josh Jackson in the first half:
Love watching Josh Jackson and Isaiah Stewart build chemistry in real time. 3rd assist of the night between the two pic.twitter.com/y2bdiH3mIH— CoSvid-19 (@RedAlternates) February 6, 2021
Beef Stew, AS GREG KELSER ACTUALLY REFERRED HIM ON THE BROADCAST, also had a really nice block on a Damion Jones dunk attempt in the third quarter.
There was some hope for a Josh Jackson revenge game here early. The aforementioned chemistry with Stewart was nice, and he had a few early buckets... but it went down hill from there as he finished the game 3 of 10 shooting for just 11 points and a team-worst -21 — something he routinely leads the Pistons in.
Jerami Grant started slow again, missing 7 of his first 10 shots, but picked it up in the second half to finish with 21 as the Pistons cut into the lead.
Unfortunately, all it took for the Suns to regain control was Chris Paul slowing things down. The Suns play at one of the slowest paces in the league, and the only time the Pistons were scoring was when they got up and down the court.
Paul had 20 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds for Phoenix while Devin Booker led them in scoring with 23. Detroit did a pretty solid job on DeAndre Ayton, but it felt like less of the Pistons’ defense and more just that the Suns never really made feeding Ayton a prority.
They didn’t need him.
The non-Stewart kids were a mixed bag. Saddiq Bey got the start for Wayne Ellington, scoring 14 points and hitting a few shots inside the arc. That’s encouraging, and he really picked it up in the second half despite struggling from three.
Sekou Doumbouya had a nice dunk in the fourth quarter, but finished with just 2 points and 3 rebounds. Watching Sekou on nights like this reminds you of how many interesting tools he has yet how many he’s still missing.
Some nights, he looks like he should probably take a big chunk of Blake Griffin’s minutes. But even on a night where Blake was forgettable (9 points, 3 rebounds), he still pretty clearly outplayed Sekou.
The key to Sekou taking some of those minutes is making a bigger impact when he’s out there. Right now, that isn’t the case. He’s just kind of... out there.
The Pistons are now 5-17, back in the pole position for top lottery odds. They return to action on Saturday night at 10 p.m. against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.