The Phoenix Suns have had a rough week. Two losses at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, at home mind you, followed by a loss in Philly to the 76ers yesterday. The three-game losing streak came to an end on Sunday, however, as the Suns defeated the Detroit Pistons, 120-106.
Kevin Durant scored 41 points on 14-of-27 shooting, making it his fourth consecutive 40+ point performance against the Pistons. With his performance, Durant is now averaging 29.9 points on the season. He was helped by Eric Gordon’s 21 points, which included 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
Sophomore guard Cade Cunningham impressed with his 26 points and 6 assists, although his 0-of-6 shooting from deep helped create a deficit his team could not overcome.
The win puts the Suns at 3-4 on the season and hopefully silences some of the drums as the team potentially ways for the return of Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.
Kevin Durant’s back has to be at risk for an injury with all the carrying he’s had to do early this season. He was responsible for the Suns’ first two buckets — the first, an assist to a Grayson Allen 3-pointer — and earned a steal in the early going.
Keita Bates-Diop, who started for the second-straight time, was involved defensively as well, closing off a driving lane for Cade Cunningham and blocking Jalen Duren shortly after.
Durant was able to get inside and score in the paint a few more times throughout the quarter, including a nice dunk over Isaiah Stewart. Durant would finish the frame with 13 points with the Suns up 28-27.
Eric Gordon had it going early in the second quarter, hitting the Suns’ first four buckets, including a deep 3, for a 9-5 run by himself. Josh Okogie, who has struggled offensively as of late, scored five points to supplement Gordon’s points as the Suns built out a double-digit lead with Durant off the floor.
As the Pistons' defense continued to not defend the rim well, Suns guards continued taking advantage with Allen re-joining the party as well. Phoenix finished the half with 36 paint points.
However, they weren’t able to get many of their jumpers to go — including just 1-5 shooting from Durant in the quarter — and the lead only sat at nine as the Suns went into the break up 58-49.
In the first half, the Suns hit just 3 3-pointers, and they took less than four-and-a-half minutes to match that in the third quarter, Gordon knocking down two of them and Durant the other, extending the lead out to a game-high 17 points.
Durant continued to take over throughout the third, but Detroit rookies Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser were up to the challenge, each hitting a 3-pointer and producing throughout, keeping it a game.
Durant’s jumper to close out the third gave the Suns a 92-80 lead heading into what looked like it would be a chippy 4th quarter. Suns opened the quarter on a 7-2 run without Durant on the floor before Gordon picked up a technical foul slamming the floor after a no-call on his drive.
By the time Durant was back, the Suns had a 16-point lead and Duren was out of the game after getting his second flagrant one foul — the first was a reckless closeout on a Durant 3-pointer and the second was an elbow to Jordan Goodwin’s face.
Suns maintained the rest of the way, and anything Detroit was able to offer was too little, too late as Phoenix snapped its losing streak, improving to 3-4 on the season.
Phoenix travels to the Windy City to play the 2-5 Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. Will time and rest equate to a Booker return and the Suns’ debut of Bradley Beal? We’ll know as the week progresses.