The Phoenix Suns really needed a win, but couldn't put the Pistons away until the final minutes. The Suns missed open shots, but the Pistons outdid them by missing free throw after free throw.
It was a sell out crowd on Star Wars night, but the Suns weren't backing it up with stellar play. The Pistons bulled their way to points just like we predicted pregame, and the Suns barely made enough shots to close out the game. Eric Bledsoe had his highest scoring fourth quarter since November (15 points) and the Suns now stand only a half-game out of 8th in the West.
The Pistons, #1 in the league in points in the paint, were held below their season average tonight as the Suns nearly held them even (46-40).
Maybe Suns owner Robert Sarver came into the locker room at halftime again, this time telling them Memphis lost and Marc Gasol went home in a walking boot?
The run to start the third quarter ran up to 14-3 before the Pistons called a timeout and righted their ship with a 14-2 run of their own to tie the game. The Suns didn't help their cause with bad possessions and missed open shots.
And just like Wednesday night, it was a 1-point game late in the third. The Suns just couldn't find a way to pull away from a losing team on a losing streak.
But this time there was no 27-5 run. The Suns could not get untracked and the game stayed close thanks to Rodney Stuckey scoring 9 points on three touches early in the 4th (two threes and an and-one).
With the game tied at 82-82 with 5:51 left, the Dragon re-entered the game. But it was Eric Bledsoe's night to have the killer 4th quarter, with 10 huge points to give the Suns the lead for good with 3 minutes left (finished with 15 in 4th, and 23 for the game).
The Pistons killed themselves with terrible free throw shooting, making only 8 of their first 24 attempts.
The Suns tried to kill themselves with terrible shooting against the league's 4th-worst defense, but Eric Bledsoe carried the Suns to victory.
Goran Dragic kept the Suns alive with 19 points and 5 assists in the first three quarters (20 for the game as this was Bled's night). Markieff Morris had another good game with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
Greg Monroe had a very frustrating game but still finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Andre Drummond finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds, but missed 4 of 7 free throws. Not to be outdone, Josh Smith finished 0 or 8 on free throws, and Detroit made only 10 of 26 for the game.
The Phoenix Suns started the game sluggish again, thinking that good offense always beats bad defense but forgetting that the other team thinks the same thing.
In the first 15 minutes of play, the Pistons had outrebounded the Suns by 10 already and held a 2-point lead. But then the Suns second unit took the lead, behind rookie Alex Len, the Morris Brothers, Gerald Green and Eric Bledsoe. The game was not pretty, by any stretch of the imagination.
The Suns Star Wars productions were better prepared than the Suns mental state for this game.
The entire first half was a slogfest of the Suns and Pistons playing to their strengths and doing it well. The Pistons had 30 points in the paint in the first half, 11 second-chance points and 8 offensive rebounds. The Suns made 5 of 13 threes and 9 fast break points.