Three weeks after Markieff Morris said that Piston's guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had "no heart", the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns face off again, this time at US Airways Center in Phoenix.
At 3-19 on the year, the Pistons are struggling. But then so were Charlotte, Orlando and Miami when they beat the Suns in Phoenix. Charlotte had lost two straight before beating Phoenix 103-95 on an Orange Friday, then proceeded to lose their next 10 straight games. Orlando had lost four straight before beating Phoenix 93-90, then lost two more before pulling out wins against the Jazz and Kings. And most recently, the Miami Heat had lost four straight before beating the Suns 103-97 on Tuesday night, then lost on Wednesday by 20 to Denver.
The Suns are only 6-5 at home counting those ugly losses to under-.500 Charlotte, Orlando and Miami. It hasn't been a banner fall at US Airways Center.
But now the Pistons are absolutely the worst team to visit the Suns all season. At 3-19, riding a 13-game losing streak, the Pistons represent a chance for every NBA team to notch a win in their belts.
If you think it's bad in Phoenix with the Suns going the three-PG route, try Detroit where they are going the three-bigs route where no one is happy and they are playing disjointed and ineffective basketball. While the Suns re-signed Bledsoe, the Pistons had to watch Greg Monroe sign his qualifying offer and become a mercenary waiting for free agency. Now, Monroe is coming off the bench while the underperforming Josh Smith is back to his power forward position in the starting lineup.
Isaiah Thomas returns for the Suns tonight after missing eight games where the Suns went 3-5 without him. Check out the practice report by Sean here, where Thomas and Hornacek discuss his return.
"I can help with energy," Thomas said. "That's what I do, that's my game. If I'm not playing with energy then I'm not that good of a basketball player. I think I can help, actually, I know I can help. We've played pretty well but we haven't been able to close games, and I think I can help in that aspect as well."
You might remember the Suns eeked out a road win in Detroit on a missed three-pointer by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the buzzer. KCP had just made a couple of threes to keep Detroit in the game, but apparently showed he had "no heart" by missing the last one.
The "no heart" comment was made by Markieff Morris in the locker room after the game ended. "KCP got it and you know he doesn't have any heart so we knew he was going to miss it."
He and KCP had had words in the first half and apparently all wasn't hunky dory yet.
KCP's reponse to Morris' comment: "It is what it is."
We'll see how both teams react to this bulletin board material.
The Morris brothers against KCP, and anyone else that wants to weigh in on the battle, or whatever it is. Clearly, something is wrong between KCP and the Morrii or Markieff would not have completely dissed him like that after the game. Will that spill over into tonight's game? If KCP does have heart and/or his teammates have his back, then something will escalate. If nothing at all happens, then that says all you need to know about why the Pistons are 3-19.
Markieff's dog named King has apparently been missing since Thanksgiving, about a week after that Detroit game . I'll go out on a limb and say that these two story lines involving Markieff are NOT related.
Hope that Keef finds his dog, folks!
I have been a bad luck charm lately. Under my watch at the arena, the Suns have lost to Orlando and Miami in the past week.
Don't make it three bad losses in a row for me, Suns!
P.J. Tucker loves the Pistons. Get in on the FanDuel tournament with promo code SBSUNS.
SB Nation FanDuel tournament number four is on tap for tonight. I've made totally sure that you will be in contention for the big dollars so join using this link, read the tasty tidbits below, pick your team, and leave your lineup in the comments. Then brag your ass off on Twitter using #FanDuelSBN. Extra points for extra obnoxiousness.
Time for the Suns to get back on track. Phoenix has dropped three straight, but the week ahead looks promising. The Suns have five consecutive games against opponents with sub .500 records. First up though is Detroit, who took the purple and orange to the wire on November 19th.
P.J. Tucker. Last time the Pistons and Suns tangled, Tucker shot 6 of 8 from the field and hit 2 of 4 from behind the arc for 16 points to go with 7 rebounds. He also did not commit a turnover in 30 minutes.
Isaiah Thomas. Yikes. In 23 minutes of play, Thomas shot a frigid 1 of 9 from the field and totaled just 5 points against Detroit.
Gerald Green. Oklahoma City and Phoenix met three times last season. In those three games, Green averaged better than 28 points a contest, shot 55% from the field, and hit a blistering 18 of 30 three pointers.
Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe hit 43% of his shots last season against Oklahoma City, falling short of his 51% average for the season. He also had two of his top ten turnover totals against OKC, including a season high of 8 on November 3rd.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. KCP hit a number of big shots to keep the Pistons close in the last matchup. In total he hit 6 of 13 shots, including 3 of 7 treys for 15 points in 28 minutes.
Russell Westbrook. Two of Westbrook's top three scoring performances last season came against the Suns. On March 6th, he had his best night of the season, scoring 36 to go with 9 assists and 9 boards. A month later he scored 33, with 8 assists and 5 rebounds.
Andre Drummond. Ripping down 13 boards, good. Shooting 2 of 10 from the field for 4 points in 25 minutes, not very good.
Reggie Jackson. For the 2013-14 season, Jackson shot 44% from the field. In three matchups against the Suns, Jackson shot a combined 35%, bottoming out with a 2 of 8, 4 point performance on March 6th.
Got it? I've given you the winners and losers. The rest is on you. To recap: #FanDuelSBN, leave your lineup below, and of course the link to make it all happen. I'd say "good luck" but you don't need it.