The Suns beat the Pistons 104-82 and I don't think it was that close. There were a couple times in the second half where the Pistons started to make a run, but the Suns beat them back. Ali was in the house again tonight. The game was kind of like a prize fighter that decisively won the first 7 or 8 rounds and then just kept his beaten opponent at bay for the decision.
First, the bad. There were four major disappointments.
1. When the team wins, you get a coupon for iced coffee and Mcdonald's -- no fries. Who goes to McDonald's for iced coffee? I guess it's a coupon they know won't get used.
2. No fire pillars at the beginning of the games that I've been to (3 so far). Hopefully, the facilities and entertainment team is pulling a page out of Porter's book and resting them for the second half of the season.
3. No t-shirt toss. Lame.
4. Shaq's ejection. I'm not even sure that's a Flagrant One. My understanding (someone check the rulebook) is that a Flagrant One is unnecessary and that a Flagrant Two is unnecessary and excessive. JSun2 was particularly upset because he liked hearing the diesel horn after Shaq hoops (last year, before the trade, we found Shaq-branded shoes at Payless and he's convinced the make him jump higher).
That little dude jumped into the air and ran into Shaq's tree-trunk arms. Stuckey then went into some sort of Japanimation-induced seizure. He popped up pretty quick and those free tosses. Did anyone else noticed a guy in a suit (looked like security) trying to talk Shaq into leaving the court when no one on the Suns bench could do it? That job has to be worse than being Pacman Jones' bodyguard.
On the upside, he'll be rested for Utah. Is he going to guard Boozer? He can't hang with Okur on the perimeter. Save that thought for later.
Other than Hill's new-found ability to pass the ball to the other team and the horrendous free throw shooting, those 4 things were the worst parts of the game. One the free throws, I guess that's just what you get with Shaq and extended playing time for "hustle" and "energy" players.
The last few games are the type of thing that brings teams together. A scuffle followed by a "gritty" victory against a spolier team (i.e., not good enough to make a run but good enough to screw things up for you) followed by a good win, without key players, against a team that has owned you in the past. Shaq was on, too. 12 point in 13 minutes on 6 of 12 shooting.
Stoudemire is back to doing his thing. Perhaps he finally ditched the bib along with the goggles. I'm more impressed with the 11 rebounds and 1 foul. He needs to be in double-figures in rebounds and has yet to do so in a season. Barkley averaged 26 and 12 his MVP year. Stoudemire needs to have similar numbers to get to the MVP he wants.
Other than Stoudemire, I think the 3s were the story. Nash's back-to-back triples at the end of the half gave the Suns the distance they needed to hold off the Pistons. I loved the one from 4 feet behind the arc right after Wallace's toe-on-the-line two point. It was also pretty cool when Singletary was dared to take the three and he hit it. Boris and Hill also hit important threes. On the other side, Detroit went 3 of 13. That zone was freaking me out with Hamilton and Sheed on the floor. Thankfully, the Suns stayed away from that for most of the game. I did lose about 6 months off the end of my life, though, every time the zone came out.
Speaking of Boris ... he had a great night. Near the end of the game, that Argentinian whose name I had to look up, took some Shaq-like elbows from Boris in the post. He didn't officially cross the Maginot Line, but I'm making the executive decision on this. These two guys are playing well together, which is something D'Antoni couldn't do with two years of trying.
I don't remember the last time I was at a game in which the Suns thoroughly worked one of the top-tier teams in the league. It felt good. It was a good crowd, too. It was pretty Detroit-heavy and the "Sheeeed" chant every time he jacked one up sure was annoying -- but satisfying as he kept missing. JSun2 really liked the game when he was finally told that the basketball arena was the only place where he could use his outside voice inside. It was pretty loud for a November game.
Final note, the box score has credited Nash with 2 blocks.