The Phoenix Suns just don't know how to close out a game. This time, it was the Pistons, on a 13-game losing streak, who came into the valley to win. Unbelievable, Suns.
The Phoenix Suns spent most of the night walking in a cloud, just like against every other slow-it-down Eastern team who have visited the Suns lately. That type of game doesn't work in the Suns favor, and once again they found themselves down most of the time.
But then, as the Suns went down 4 points in the mid-fourth, Hornacek turned to his three point guards and told them to pressure and push the ball. At first, the Pistons scored on three straight possessions at the rim but then the Suns got some steals were able to tie the game with less than two minutes left.
But the Suns could not score and the Pistons' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a three to give the Pistons a 100-97 lead. Again, sound familiar? After the Suns scored, D.J. Augustin scored on a layup to bring the lead back to three.
Josh Smith made it interesting by missing a couple of free throws so the Suns could pull within 1 with 16 seconds left, but they should not have been in that position.
Meeks hit a couple of free throws and the Suns missed a three, but Tucker got a couple of free throws, Drummond missed one, and the Suns could not get a quick score to win.
Same tune, different night.
You give a bad team life, and they take and suck on it all night long.
This is a Pistons team that had lost THIRTEEN STRAIGHT GAMES. But they all came to play and looked a lot better than a 13-game losing streak would suggest. They had 21 second-chance points and 60 points in the paint. 60! The Suns just had no answer and couldn't muster enough fast breaks (29 points on FB) to make up the difference.
Of course. That's how the Suns roll.
Pistons win, 105-103.
Marcus Morris and Isaiah Thomas went a combined 6-for-20 (including 2-10 on threes) which did not help the cause. Alex Len played poorly, which also did not help.
The Suns started the game like they wanted to work for the win, which is always a good sign. You think I jest, but some home games have started off so flat you'd think the team expected to win without working for it.
First it was Goran Dragic with the steal and FB layup between two Pistons (awful) defenders. Then Miles Plumlee went all Kobe on us and took seven of the Suns next 10 shots and didn't drop a single pass. He missed some bunnies but he didn't turn it over and he was active.
Soon, the Suns were up 13-9 before the Plumslaught was over. The Suns kept playing anyway, and took a 23-15 lead at one point.
But then the Suns did what they always do and they hit a lull where they stopped playing hard because the game was coming so easy, and the Pistons pulled to a tie by the end of the quarter on a Josh Smith steal and three-pointer as time was about to expire.
Suns 28, Pistons 28
Awful ending. Giving a really, really bad team some confidence is a bad, bad thing.
Andre Drummond was an offensive rebound machine, grabbing 5 and putting them all back for a near double-double in the first quarter alone (12 points, 8 rebounds).
Goran Dragic had 8 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. Miles Plumlee had 8 points, but only one rebound. The Suns were outrebounded in the quarter 15-12.
Alex Len made some dumb plays, so he was quickly replaced by the resurgent Miles Plumlee who continued to do good things. Go figure.
The Suns fumbled, bumbled and missed-shot their way to a deficit against a Pistons team that had no idea what was going on, but they excitedly started playing with abandon and making some things go right. The Pistons grabbed a 5-point lead with a mostly backup unit, while Drummond and Smith were on the bench.
Hornacek went to the three PGs to get some offense and pace going against the Pistons second unit but that only served to keep the game within reach rather than spark the Suns. They just took a bunch of jumpers and got no offensive boards. Thomas and Marcus Morris started 2-10 (0-4 on threes) combined in the quarter before Marcus finally drained one.
The Suns went on an 11-2 run to take a 2-point lead with less than a minute left in the quarter, but then Detroit scored five quick points (free throw, offensive board/tip in, layup) to take a 3-point halftime lead.
Eric Bledsoe leads the Suns with 10 points, while Markieff Morris has 7 rebounds and Goran Dragic has 3 assists. Since taking a 23-15 lead out of the gate the Suns were outscored 40-29 the rest of the half. By a 3-19 team on a 13-game losing streak.
Feels like Orlando, Miami, Charlotte games in terms of losing to a bad Eastern Conference team at home. Suns can only hope this one turns out like Indiana, where they had a big second half surge to win. But that's only a 25% chance of happening, based on the season so far.
The Suns came out playing hard in the third quarter and took the lead back within 5 minutes but the Pistons would not go away (likely because the Suns gave them confidence in the first half).
Suns played hard in that quarter, fighting for rebounds and running out on breaks. Markieff Morris scored 11 points and the Suns took a 76-71 lead with seconds left.
But then once again, they allowed the Pistons to go on a quarter-ending run. This time 4-0, to pull within one.
That's 5-0, 5-0 and 4-0 runs to end each quarter for the Pistons.
Killer. Suns by one, 76-75.
The Suns opened the quarter with Len, Green, Thomas, Tucker and Keef but then switched to Marcus after Keef scored to open the quarter.
Len just really didn't look engaged in this game. That's going to happen to 21 year olds in their first season of big playing time. And, Miles was doing well (10 points, 5 rebounds to that point).
Isaiah Thomas just really didn't have that speed he needs to be effective and he didn't make up for it by passing the ball a ton. He went 1-7 to start the game before a couple of free throws helped him see the rim better and he made a three soon after.
Marcus Morris has become the ultimate hot/cold player who can make a big shot but missed so many of them he's frustrating.
Tucker did what Tucker does. Hustle. He had a couple of close scores.
But then Detroit made a big three and got a drive-and-slam from KCP (his second one of the night) where not one Sun tried to defend the rim.
The Suns were down 2 with 5;13 left ad it was time to bring the starters back.
But Hornacek brought Dragic and Bledsoe back in to play with Isaiah Thomas to make a three-headed PG monster to try to get out and run. Hornacek turned to all three PGs and yelled "push the ball!". He was tired of slow ball.
The Pistons kept trying to use the clock and hope they could work themselves into a good shot at the basket or an open three. It worked for Miami, but didn't work for Indiana.
On the first three Pistons possessions, they got that score (a jam by Smith, FTs by KCP, follow by Drummond) to keep the lead. The Suns on the other end got themselves to the line but missed 2 of 4 shots to fall further behind.
Then Tucker got a steal and Thomas ran out on a fast break to score and tie the game. Tucker got another steal on the next possession to get the Suns the ball back.
But the Suns couldn't close out the game and they lost to the PISTONS, who had lost 13 straight games.
Sheesh, this is a bad stretch.