In a game between two teams at the opposite end of the NBA standings, the Phoenix Suns managed to improve their NBA-leading record, defeating the Detroit Pistons 135-108.
As most did not expect the now 10-32 Pistons to top the NBA’s best team, the story of this one for Pistons fans was that their star rookie Cade Cunningham received his first NBA ejection following his second technical foul of the game.
Midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Suns’ superstar Devin Booker threw down an impressive put-back jam off a Phoenix miss to extend the Suns’ lead. To the delight of Detroit viewers, Cunningham answered that with a savvy baseline drive capped off by a ferocious reverse slam.
Following the jam, Cunningham pointed to someone or something, which the refs appeared to perceive as taunting and proceeded to tag him with his second technical foul of the game.
CADE WITH THE REVERSE SLAM pic.twitter.com/wfrrZKdWei— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 16, 2022
Cunningham finished the contest with 21 points and four assists on 9-of-15 shooting on the day. Josh Jackson received a second technical as well and was tossed in the final minute of the contest.
Outside of the ejections, this one went more or less as expected, as the Pistons could never seriously threaten the Suns’ prospects of winning.
Devin Booker was borderline untouchable today, especially in the first half which saw him contribute 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. Many of his buckets were not a result of soft defense from the Pistons either, as the Michigan native gave Pistons’ defenders fits with his impressive contested shot-making. Booker finished with 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field.
To their credit, the Pistons did manage to keep the game competitive throughout most of the first half. Both teams came out of the gates firing in this one, as Phoenix and Detroit set new season highs for their respective groups for field goal percentage in a quarter. After the opening period, the Suns were at 80% from the field (16-for-20) while the Pistons were at 71% (15-for-21).
While the Pistons managed to hang with the Suns’ high powered offense for a while, Phoenix started to pull away at the end of the first half and went into the break with a 10 point lead. They stretched that lead at the start of the third quarter and did not falter for the remainder of the game.
In addition to Booker, the Suns received a big boost from their bench as JaVale McGee, scored 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor in leu of Deandre Ayton, who left the game in the first quarter with an apparent injury. Cameron Payne scored 20 off the bench as well for Phoenix.
Trey Lyles and Cory Joseph continued their impressive play off Detroit’s bench, the former scoring 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting while the latter poured in 21 points and had seven assists.
Overall, there were some takeaways for the Pistons in this one, both positive and negative. The young starters looked good on offense to open this one, and it was impressive to see them hang in an offensive shootout with one of the NBA’s premier teams.
At the end of the day, however, it was apparent yet again that Detroit has some serious ground to make up in terms of overall talent if they want to play with a team like the Suns. I would venture to say it’s clear the young Pistons are learning and improving, even if it’s not translating to wins on a nightly basis. The team now holds a 5-4 record in 2022.
Detroit will be back in action Tuesday as they travel to Oakland, California for another battle with the NBA’s elite in the Golden State Warriors.