PHOENIX — On a night when Jared Dudley scored two points, the Phoenix Suns weren’t gasping for breaths on offense. It was a stark contrast to last season’s team, which never could...

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After falling behind by as many as 11 in the second quarter, the Phoenix Suns were able to fight back in the second half of the game and squeak out a win against the Detroit Pistons tonight 92-89.

The Suns were led by Marcin Gortat who was a beast with a very impressive 16 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks, but this was an all-around team effort. Michael Beasley also showed up and tied the team high in points with his 16 points and 7 rebounds, Goran Dragic was terrific with his 15 points and 10 assists, and Shannon Brown was hot in the fourth quarter registering a total of 14 points and 4 rebounds.

The Detroit Pistons were led by Tayshaun Prince's 18 points and 3 rebounds, along with Jason Maxiell's 16 points and 6 rebounds. Gortat did an excellent job defending Greg Monroe holding him to just 8 points on 5-17 shooting and only 6 rebounds.

This was a great momentum game for the Suns who were able to not only play with more fluidity offensively, but were also able to tighten up their defense and win the battle of the boards 52-39. Game ball tonight goes to Marcin Gortat for showing he is much more than just a one-trick pony on a pick-and-roll offense. The Polish Machine was just that, and the Suns will need him to continue this effort as they look forward to the three-game road trip ahead.

Final - 11.2.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Detroit Pistons 28 18 17 26 89
Phoenix Suns 24 30 17 21 92

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Suns drive over Pistons in final three quarters, hold on to 92-89 win behind Dragic and Brown

When: Tonight, 7:00 PST

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix AZ

Watch: Locally: FSNAZ; Outside AZ: NBA League Pass (Free Trial)

After losing what should have been a nice comeback victory against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, the Phoenix Suns are now faced with either continuing their lackluster start against another inferior opponent tonight in the Detroit Pistons, or proving that they are better than their initial display of inconsistency and missed jump shots.

The Suns will be at home once more tonight before embarking on a three-game road trip against the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Bobcats. So if they intend on gaining some momentum and establishing some rhythm to their offense, tonight is their best chance to do so.

The Detroit Pistons are coming off a 105-96 Wednesday night loss to James Harden and the Houston Rockets after being up 11 points in the 4th quarter. The Suns can expect the Pistons to be hungry for their first win just like they are, with both teams looking to prove they are better than they played in the first game.

Key Match-ups:

Goran Dragic vs. Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey - Although both Stuckey and Knight are starters at the guard position, they can both run the offense and switch between roles depending on what look is more beneficial. It's difficult to predict which player will see the bulk of time matched up against Dragic, but either way Dragic should still have the upper hand.

Marcin Gortat vs. Greg Monroe: This should be the best match-up of the game from an outside perspective. Both Gortat and Monroe are productive, skilled, and effective centers who each have certain advantages over the other. Greg Monroe is better at using his body to get into position to score and secure rebounds, and his passing is incredible. Gortat is probably a tad more agile, and probably has a little more outside range. Both players have a nice mid-range game, good footwork, and can run the floor very well; but Monroe has already proven he can be the first option on offense when need be, something Gortat has yet to prove without Nash.

Luis Scola and Michael Beasley vs. Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell: Both forward positions is by and large the Suns biggest match-up advantage against Detroit. There's no reason the Suns shouldn't look to exploit these match-ups early and often. However, will the Suns get the 29 point 10 rebound version of Beasley that they saw in the preseason, or the 2-9 shooting defensive sieve they saw against the Warriors who was benched for PJ Tucker?

Suns Bench vs. Pistons Bench: While the Suns bench has been a bit of a concern thus far, the Pistons' bench is loaded with talented young players, some of whom many Pistons' fans believe should be starting. Andre Drummond, Jonas Jerebko, Kim English, Kyle Singler, and Will Bynum are likely to give the Suns' reserves all they can handle tonight. Will the Suns' bench be ready to step up to the challenge?

The Bottom Line:

This is gut check time for the Suns. Regardless of the individual match-ups they face tonight, the Suns biggest obstacle is probably themselves. Can they regain the offensive flow they demonstrated in the preseason? Or, will they continue to make poor decisions and jack-up long range shots even when they aren't falling? Are they going to pull themselves together after a gut-wrenching loss and handle their business at home? Or, will they continue to under perform? All we have are questions right now...Hopefully we start getting the answers we're looking for tonight.


Rule Changes:

  • During the last two minutes of the game and in overtime goal tending, basket interference and restricted area fouls are reviewable. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The reviews will be subject to the same "incontrovertible evidence" to overturn the call on the floor, so referees maybe more likely to call a goaltend in order to make it reviewable, but then if it's a really close play it makes it harder to overturn. Since there is the possibility of something like this happening at a pivotal moment, I guarantee this exact situation will occur during game seven of the NBA Finals.
  • Each team has 90 seconds to take the court for the jump ball after the horn sounds. If a team is not ready they will be charged a delay of game penalty, which forfeits their one freebie before technical free throws are assigned.
  • Fine for flopping. Since the opprobrious nature of this infraction is paralleled by the ridiculousness of the implication that this rule will in any way deter the action... I don't have much to say about this.

Points of Enofrcement (P.O.E.'s for those of us in the know.....). These are the areas of increased emphasis for referees this season:

  • There will be a heightened sensitivity to actions that restrict freedom of movement (F.O.M. - these guys seem to be enamored with acronyms... OMG) such as screens and touching. The league wants to encourage the ability of the athletes to move without restriction or impedance in order to aggrandize the phenomenal athleticism of its players.
  • Illegal screens will be monitored more closely including arriving late and movement including extending arms, hips and knees. The screen needs to be set within the envelope of the shoulders. I have already noticed instances where I think they are more cognizant of these issues.
  • Touching will also receive more scrutiny. This includes touching with two hands, body checks and grabs. A momentary touch is allowed in the lower box below the free throw line. This includes watching for defenders stepping under or making low touches on shooter taking jump shots. Conversely, they will be looking for leg kickouts by the offensive player. The jump shooter needs to be going up and down (as opposed to side to side) when attempting to draw contact from a defender who has left his feet.
  • Delay of games and technicals will be assigned to coaches stepping on the court. I'm sure this will be enforced and discourage this type of action (rolling eyes).
  • Intention plays into ruling on flagrant fouls, but they can still be assigned based on the result of the play disrespective of the intent.
  • The ruling on charges is that the tie goes to the runner (offensive player). I'm not expecting to see much improvement here as it seems like the league has incentivized defensive players running to a point, not being set or allowing the offensive player time to alter course, and still being rewarded with the call every time (think Miami Heat). A player will, supposedly, not receive a defensive foul for jumping straight up and down with arms extended above the head.
  • Discontinued dribbles (fancy name for carry) will be hahahaha... I can't finish this...
  • Referee's will also be watching for "spliiting the feet" where a player.... hahahaha - I still can't get over that joke about them calling carries. Next thing you know they'll be saying a player only gets two steps... lifts his pivot foot prior to initiating his dribble. This rule actually does get called. Sometimes multiple times in a game and sometimes erroneously.
  • Overt reactions (air punching, throwing the ball down and away) will result in technicals.
  • Fake shots after fouls will not be rewarded with free throws. The referees aren't stupid (insert obligatory joke here).
  • If a player receives the ball in the lower defensive box it eliminates the restricted area rules governing charges and some forms of contact.

Additional Notes:

  • The hardest call is out of bounds. Think about it. The game is rushing by at a breakneck pace and suddenly, in a flash, the ball is out of bounds. Who touched it last? Makes sense.
  • The referee's mantra is to focus on the defender first, then secondarily on the offensive player.
  • The crews working games this year consist completely of returning referees. The veteran experience should lend itself to well officiated games.
Hopefully this helps anyone that isn't already up to speed. We have a pretty erudite following here so I'm sure you will want to be informed and keep an eye on some of these issues.

A full copy of the official rules for the 2012-13 NBA season is available online for the true masochist fan.

This post is sponsored by Jack in the Box.

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