The Phoenix Suns should have been able to run away with this game, considering the Pistons had jettisoned three of their starters after the trade deadline, but Detroit played well enough to stay in the game all the way through and then pulled off heroics at the end.
Late third quarter, the Pistons started hitting threes and the game was suddenly on its way out of reach. The Suns just had no answer, as has been the case a lot this year in terms of shooting. But unlike most nights, the energy wasn’t there for the Suns either this time. They just could not muster it.
Cameron Johnson made three late threes to help pull the Suns within two with just over a minute left, but then Derrick Rose went into vintage mode and made two impossibly tough buckets in the paint to close out the game.
Still, the Suns had a chance with 1.3 left, down two, after an inbound gaffe by the Pistons. But Booker could not get the shot off in the left corner, and the buzzer sounded.
Pistons win 113-111, on 4th quarter heroics you’d expect from a 19-31 team that had dumped three starters and lost seven straight games in the last two weeks. Mmhm.
Derrick Rose finished a vintage game with 31 points on 15-24 shooting.
This just wasn’t the Suns night. They lost this game over the first 3.75 quarters, not those last two shots by Rose or that missed shot at the final buzzer. Even when the Suns played good defense, the loose ball on the missed shot ended up in the Pistons hands. Or the offensive rebound landed right to them. I can’t even count the different ways that happened.
Oh, and Brandon Knight had himself a night, didn’t he? He had 19 points, including 5-10 on threes (some very contested ones), to hold the Suns off in the 4th. Quite a game for him. I’m happy for him. Real happy. Thrilled.
Deandre Ayton was smooth and efficient all night, and Ricky Rubio was sublime as a passer. But the rest of the team was a little off again and the suns could not put the Pistons away.
Derrick Rose was vintage Rose on drives to the hoop, putting on his shakiest moves to juke Ayton at the rim for layups. But really it was the Pistons constant effort and activity that kept them going in this game.
This was a Pistons team that had not won a game since beating the Suns in Detroit earlier this month, a seven-game losing streak. In fact, that earlier Suns win was one of two in their last 15 games. Ugh.
First half notes
The game did not open well. The Pistons got a layup on a nice cut, and then drew a foul on a three. Detroit’s lead jumped to 9-2 before the Suns got a good shot.
Dario Saric did not get off to a good start, getting stuffed on a slow layup attempt attempt and then committing a turnover that turned into a fast break.
But Dario worked like he always does, and got a nice transition layup to help get the Suns to life.
Deandre Ayton was big in the early going against the now-smaller Pistons, posting 6 points and 3 rebounds in the first 6 minutes.
Brandon Knight checked in as the first sub off the Pistons bench, playing opposite Elie Okobo. Let’s see how this goes.
Svi somethingsomething made a couple of threes and the Suns got down 21-15 because they, once again, could not.
Then Cameron Johnson went down hard and did not get up for a while. When he did get up, he went straight to the locker room. Gingerly. Reports were that he hit his head, so he probably has a concussion.
After one, the Suns are down 29-24. Of course.
Deandre Ayton had his 6/3 in the first, while Christian Wood went the whole quarter for and 8/3/2/1 line.
Suns bad breaks — on loose balls anyway — got worse in the second quarter, but the Suns made enough shots to take their first lead at 37-36. Ricky Rubio was dishing the dimes, perfectly setting up Suns on their way to the basket. And frankly, that may be the only way to score in this game.
Cam Johnson returned to the game for the last few minutes of the half, so he definitely did not incur a concussion. Just a fuzzy head.
The Suns kept the lead, 53-52 at half, even though the loose balls (and weird calls) kept going against them. It helped that Ayton was a smooth 7-7 from the floor for 14 points, plus 6 rebounds and 1 (should be 3 but only 1 credited) block.
The Pistons blitzed Booker with double teams at halfcourt all half, forcing Booker to give up the ball on long passes and allow the Pistons time to get back into somewhat defensive position. Booker had only 9 points and 4 assists at halftime. Let’s see how things unfold in the second half.
Three second-half possessions: Booker bad lob, Booker bad pass, Booker missed layup. Not a great start.
The Suns definitely came collectively into the second half a half-step slow all around, but the Pistons could not capitalize.