In what was a tough match-up against a young, confident Detroit Pistons team, the Phoenix Suns had their work cut out for them tonight as they won a hard fought battle at home 109-101 to end their back-to-back-to-back stretch with a 3-0 record. More importantly though, the Suns were finally able to reach the vaunted .500 mark on the season at 22-22, returning to relevance, and now officially in the playoff hunt!
The Suns are now 8-2 since the All-Star break and playing with much more confidence overall and consistency in the second unit which has really bolstered the team. Detroit gave a valiant effort with the very talented back court of both Rodney Stuckey scoring 23 points and dishing out 8 assists, along with Brandon Knight who scored 17 points along with his 6 assists as well.
The leading scorer for the Suns tonight was Jared Dudley who scored 23 points and 7 rebounds on hot shooting and tons of hustle. But make no mistake about it, this was a total team effort tonight with big contributions from just about everyone who saw the floor. Steve Nash dished out a season high tying 17 assists, Channing Frye had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 5 rebounds, Grant Hill pitched in with 14 points, and even big Robin Lopez took over in the fourth quarter with 14 points and 4 rebounds.
Full game recap coming tomorrow morning. For now enjoy the win Suns fans, and read on after the jump to see the game notes!
Gortat comes out with an immediate P&R bucket off a Nash feed…Ahhh, back to normal!
Grant with a block and then a steal that leads to a Dudley 3!
Dudley staying HOT!!! 2nd 3 already
As for Frye…not so much. 0-2 on wide open 3’s to start the game…But he has 6 rebounds already so he’s earning his time
Brandon Knight now with two 3’s as well…and then sticks a two to lead the Pistons with 8 points so far
Knight hits another jumper..now with 10
The Nash-Gortat machine is well oiled and working great tonight! Gortat with 6 points so far all off the pick and roll with Steve
Beautiful no-look over the head pass from Nash to Dudley who then finishes with a layup…Pure poetry in motion!
Halfway through the first quarter, Dudley is leading the Suns already with 12 points, Nash has 5 assists and Fry has 7 rebounds…Great contributions! Suns up 25-23
Uh-oh, Gortat gets his second PF early and has to come out…Let’s hope that doesn’t become an issue
Nash with a great feed to a running Robin Lopez who rocks the rim!
Suns lead 31-27 at the end of the 1st quarter. Suns shooting 50%, Pistons 58%. Suns with 15rbs, Pistons with 8rbs. Suns with 2 TO’s, Pistons with 3 TO’s. Dudley leading the Suns with 12 points, Brandon Knight leading the Pistons with 10 points. Nash already with 7 assists
Suns bench in to start the 2nd quarter: Telfair, Brown, Redd, Morris, and Lopez
Morris starts off the second quarter with a nice screen and roll with Telfair that he converts to a layup
Morris with a BIG block on Knight who he shadowed all the way to the rim before extinguishing!
Redd comes out and hits his first shot…Nice start for him, let’s hope it’s a good omen!
Lopez tries to get a little too fancy with a behind the back pass and turns the ball over. “A” for effort there Robin, but we should probably leave that to Nash.
Suns reserves holding serve so far as Redd drills a three to make it a 38-33 lead.
Well that didn’t last long, a few sloppy possessions by the bench and Stucky getting to the line twice in a row to tie the game at 38 now.
Stucky trying to take the game over now, Detroit on a 12-3 run as Stucky powers in for the and-1. Gentry has seen enough and brings in Frye in place of Morris who despite a great start has air-balled his last shot and committed a bad foul.
Now Dudley comes in for Brown as well.
Redd with another 3! Now has 10 points off the bench
Halfway through the 2nd quarter the Pistons now lead 45-43. Stucky beginning to put his mark on the game with 15 points already. Might be time for Hill to come back in and cool his jets. Telfair hasn’t been able to guard him.
Dudley with an incredible and-1 after getting the offensive rebound…great hustle from Dudz!
Stucky drills another 3 with Dudley guarding him now.
Starters back in but Detroit is pressing on. Frye not able to knock down open shots yet tonight.
Just like that Frye hits a three to make me eat my words…and I’m glad to do it
Knight answers right back though with a three of his own
Frye with a BIG DADDY block that leads to a transition three for Dudley! He has 18 now!
Jerebko hits a three at the other end as the shot clock expires and Detroit holds their lead going into the half
Detroit outscores 32-23 in the 2nd quarter…Uh-oh, let’s hope the Alex rule takes a night off!
Pistons lead 59-54 at the end of the 1st half. Suns shooting 47%, Pistons 57%. Suns with 28rbs, Pistons with 19rbs. Suns with 9 TO’s, Pistons with 7 TO’s. Dudley leading the Suns with 18 points, Rodney Stuckey leading the Pistons with 17 points.
Gortat makes a nicve adjustment to hit the floater off a Nash assists to start the 3rd quarter…Now has 10 points.
Nash with a beautiful pass in the air as he whips it behind him to an open Grant Hill who drains the jumper!
Maxiell just posterizes Gortat on a vicious dunk...that was ugly
Detroit still holding their lead so far by hustling and grabbing offensive rebounds…too many second chance shots so far in the early 3rd quarter
Tayshaun Prince is having a nice shooting game so far as well…Suns have to start getting more stops and securing the rebound.
Nash hits an open Grant Hill who punches in another jumper…10 points now for Grant and now 13 assists for Nash!
Halfway through the 3rd quarter the Pistons lead is down to 3 as they lead 71-68. Suns need to increase the intensity on defense and hustle for loose balls and rebounds to take this game back over.
Gortat now 18-14 with 16 points…He’s really come alive in the 3rd quarter
Dudley with another 3 to tie the game at 73-73…Dudz now with 21 points
Gentry mixing in the bench with the starters now rather than substituting the entire unit together…I like this strategy better.
Detroit still hitting their shots at a high percentage…Knight now with 17 points as he drills a 3 over Grant Hill
Morris with a very nice feed to find Brown at the rim for an easy bucket!
Pistons lead 80-79 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Suns shooting 51%, Pistons 52%. Suns with 36rbs, Pistons with 32rbs. Suns with 12 TO’s, Pistons with 13 TO’s. Dudley leading the Suns with 21 points, Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight leading the Pistons with 17 points each. Nash has also tied his season high in assists already with 17!
Telfair, Brown, Redd, Morris, Lopez in to start the fourth quarter…Uh-oh, let’s hope they do better than their 2nd quarter or Gentry may need to switch things up quickly
Lopez gets a quick foul to start the 4th and heads to the line knocking down both free throws to give the Suns a 1 point lead
Lopez then hits a lefty hook! Robin now with 10 points off the bench!
Lopez with a nice follow tip in on a Redd miss….Robin has been the best player for the Suns to start the 4th quarter
Stuckey still hitting big shots to keep the Pistons with a slight lead
Brown with a big 3 to give the Suns the lead
Frye now hits another 3 to give the Suns a two point lead at 95-93 halfway through the 4th quarter…The Suns are in a dog fight and will need to have a strong finish to ice the game.
Suns starters have returned to drive the victory bus to win-ville, except for Lopez who remains in the game
Frye with a huge turnaround 3 as the shot clock ran down…Suns up 100-95
Lopez ices two critical free throws to give the Suns a seven point lead with two minutes left
Frye plays good defense and grabs a critical rebound with 28 seconds left which should ice the game! Frye now with 12 rebounds on the night!
Frye with another rebound as he gets fouled and heads back to the line to close the game…Excellent game for Frye and the Suns as a whole for that matter!
Suns win 109-101! Suns shoot 49%, Pistons 51%. Suns with 51rbs, Pistons with 38rbs. Suns with 13 TO’s, Pistons with 16 TO’s. Dudley led the Suns with 23 points, Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 17 points.
Well, that didn't go exactly as planned, the Suns are down 59-54 at the half after Detroit outscores the Suns 32-23 in the second quarter. Let's hope Alex's rule takes a vacation tonight and the Suns can take care of business in the second half!
This is it...The last game of a back-to-back-to-back in which the Suns are undefeated thus far, and now have the chance to go 3-0 over the stretch and also get back to .500 on the season!
Buckle up, and enjoy the ride...Let's go!
After a stunning victory last night against the Los Angeles Clippers, a huge win on the road against one of the supposed powerhouse teams of the West while playing without Steve Nash and Grant Hill, the Phoenix Suns will return home tonight to close out their final game of a back-to-back-to-back series against the Detroit Pistons.
The 21-22 Suns will be looking to go undefeated over their second and final three-games-in-three-nights stretch, and most importantly to officially return to the playoff discussion by reaching the .500 mark milestone for the first time since they were 4-4 to start the season. On the other hand, the 16-27 Pistons are also surging of late going 4-1 over their last five games, and after playing their best game of the season (offensively) on Wednesday night when they shot over 58% from the field in their 124-112 win against the Sacramento Kings.
The Suns have won the last three home games in a row against the Pistons, and after resting their two veteran stars last night they should be in prime position to close out their three game stretch at home with another victory. But the Suns can't make the mistake of taking this Pistons team lightly. In order to win tonight, the Suns will have to come out focused and ready to take care of business against a dangerous Pistons team who is looking to make a statement of their own.
Read on after the jump for a breakdown of what to expect tonight...
Here's a look at the Pistons
|Walker Russell Jr.||21||14.4||1.1||3.6||31.6||0.1||0.5||27.3||0.4||0.7||60.0||0.3||0.7||1.0||2.3||1.0||0.7||0.0||1.0||2.9|
Looking at these stats, the first thing that jumps out to me is how Greg Monroe is their leading scorer. I knew the sophomore center was having a very productive year, but I didn't realize that he was now the very backbone of the team averaging 16.6 points, 9.9 rebounds per game. The Pistons back-court combo of Knight and Stuckey is probably one of the most underrated in the league, with both players able to switch between running the point or playing off the ball, giving their offense versatility and a lot of scoring.
Not only that, but Brandon Knight, their rookie point guard has done very well since taking over the duties on running the point in the starting line-up, while Rodney Stuckey has been a better fit at the two-guard position and has scored 35 and 29 points over the his last two games. Knight also racked up a career high 11 assists in their last game against the Kings, something he is capable of doing more consistently once he gets more comfortable running the offense.
Steve Nash vs. Brandon Knight - Knight is promising rookie point guard with nice skills all around who is still figuring out the game and gaining confidence along the way. Knight posted his second double-double of the season Wednesday against the Kings scoring 10 points and dishing 11 assists, and he is more than capable of putting up stats like this on a regular basis. But Steve Nash is already everything a young point guard could ever hope to be, and with plenty of rest after sitting out during the Suns' impressive win against the Clippers last night, he should be ready to show the young rookie a thing or two. (Advantage Suns)
Grant Hill vs. Rodney Stuckey - Rodney Stuckey has become one of the most underrated combo guards in the league, and his prolific scoring recently has carried this Pistons team to a 5-2 record over their last 7 games where he has averaged over 25 points per game over that stretch. Grant Hill is one of the best all-around defenders in the league though, and when he is tasked with the responsibility of shutting down another team's top scorer he does it better than almost anyone else... Oh yeah, and he can also score a little bit himself too. Stuckey certainly isn't a player to take lightly, but especially since he was rested last night, I have to give Grant's defensive prowess a slight edge in this case. (Slight Advantage: Suns)
Marcin Gortat vs. Greg Monroe - Gortat has been the second best player on the Suns team this season averaging 16 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Greg Monroe has been the best player overall on the Pistons this season, averaging 16.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Looking at those stats it basically a wash, and even if we instead compare their PER 36 stats, Gortat averages 17.4 points and 11.1 rebounds while Monroe averages 18.4 points and 11.0 rebounds...Still too close to call. Neither one of these players really plays above the rim, but instead rely on their skills and mobility to be successful. This will be a great match-up to keep an eye on tonight as these two go at it. (Push)
Suns Bench vs. Pistons Bench - The Pistons bench is anchored by Ben Gordon, Jonas Jerebko, and Ben Wallace with none of the other players getting consistent playing time. Gordon is their leading bench player averaging 27 minutes and 11 points per game while Jerebko averages 23 minutes a game and 9 points, 5 rebounds. Wallace averages around 15 minutes and 4 rebounds. The Suns bench on the other hand is filled with capable back-ups who are in and out of the rotation. Shannon Brown, Robin Lopez, Sebastian Telfair, and Markieff Morris have become the most consistent contributors, but Ronnie Price, Hakim Warrick, Michael Redd, and Josh Childress can also come in and help the team whenever the match-ups are favorable. The Suns' bench is much deeper than the Pistons, but their biggest issue has been consistency. Will the impressive play of Suns' bench last night continue on into tonight's game? It's hard to say, but they have been improving recently and I believe they are finally starting to come together. They should win this match-up handily. (Advantage: Suns)
This is a game the Suns can and should win tonight. All the pieces have seemingly fell in place perfectly for the Suns to get back to .500 in tonight's game against the Pistons...They are playing at home against an inferior team, their veteran stars are both well rested, and they are riding a wave of momentum after a shocking and impressive win against the Clippers last night. However, they simply cannot afford to take this Pistons team lightly or they could easily fall victim to an upset. They must continue to play with intensity and energy while remaining focused on their goal. If they do, they should be able to take care of business tonight and end their three-game streak undefeated, with a possible playoff berth realistically in their sights.