The Phoenix Suns (7-5) scored the fewest points all season, but ended up with an 88-86 victory over the Detroit Pistons (3-9) in a tightly contested match from start to finish. Markieff Morris came up with the play of the game, a huge blocked shot as Brandon Jennings went up for a layup with the Suns leading 87-86, and 5.9 seconds left in the game. The Pistons have had trouble scoring all season, and are ranked 27th in the NBA in points per game (93.0), 28th in field goal percentage (41.6%), and 29th in free throw percentage (67.1%). They are a big team up front, but are only making 47.4 percent of their shots inside the paint. The Suns are ranked 6th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 105.3 points per game, but haven’t been very good on defense, giving up 105.3 points per game ranking them 26th in the NBA. The Suns never really got their offense going, but their defense came up big when it was needed.
The game was close the entire first half, with 8 ties, 6 lead changes, and neither team gaining more than a 4 point lead. P.J. Tucker sparked the Suns by scoring 11 points off the bench in the second quarter, and would finish the game with 16 points and 7 rebounds. The Suns shot 46.3 percent on 19 of 41 from the field at the half. Detroit took more shots, but were just 18 of 46 (39.1%) from the field. Greg Monroe scored 6 points in each of the first two quarters to lead the Pistons with 12 points and 7 rebounds heading into the half, and would finish the game with 18 points and 12 rebounds. After the game, Monroe said, “You are always going to have frustration when you lose, but games like this are even tougher. We just needed one more play, out of all the plays tonight.” The Pistons made one more 3-pointer than the Suns, and grabbed 9 offensive rebounds, but couldn’t capitalize due to their poor shooting. Even though the slow tempo favored the Pistons, the Suns were able to generate 8 fast break points and led 44-43 at halftime.
The third quarter started off with both teams again trading baskets. The Suns slowly started to pull ahead, and after Greg Monroe picked up a technical foul, the Suns completed a 10-2 run giving them their biggest lead of the game, 58-49 with 6:27 remaining in the period. Brandon Jennings attacked the rim, getting 4 layups and scoring 11 straight for Detroit to not only get the Pistons back into the game, but give them a 64-63 lead. Jennings would finish with a game high 19 points and 7 assists. Alex Len nailed a mid-range fadeaway jumper to give the Suns back the lead heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter started with the Suns leading 65-64 and the game still in question. The Suns maintained the lead and gradually pulled ahead by 8 when Markieff Morris hit a deep jumper from the top of the key with just over three minutes remaining. When Goran Dragic drained a fadeaway jumper with 1:52 to go, it seemed like the Suns finally had the game in hand leading 85-77. Leading by 8, the Suns committed two consecutive turnovers and watched the Pistons sink three straight 3-pointers, including two by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who would finish with 15 points, giving the Pistons an 86-85 lead with 35 seconds left. After giving up the lead, the Suns Eric Bledsoe would take the ball into his own hands and drive past his defender for an uncontested layup, scoring his team high 18th point of the game. After the game, Bledsoe said, “My coaches and my teammates let me get the ball and make the play.” Trailing 87-86, Brandon Jennings took an inbound pass with 11.8 seconds left and drove down the lane, taking a running floater at the rim. That’s when Markieff Morris came off his man and knocked the ball out of the air. Caldwell-Pope got the rebound and took a 30-foot desperation shot that just fell short, ending the Pistons hope for a late comeback.
“It was an ugly game, especially in the first half, but we’ll take it. We’ve had some games where we thought we could win them at the end, and this time we almost let one get away, but we just want to win games any way we can.” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek
The Suns held the Pistons to shooting 37.9 percent from the field, including going 23 for 53 (43.4%) inside the paint, but a lot of that was just poor shooting by Detroit. Phoenix took only 75 shots compared to the Pistons 87, but the Suns shot a higher percentage in every quarter, finishing at 49.3 percent for their third highest shooting percentage in a game this season. The Pistons have lost three straight games, and are now 0-5 when starters Monroe, Josh Smith, and Andre Drummond score less than 35 points combined. With the win, the Suns have now won 9 of their last 12 against Detroit, and snap a three-game losing streak at the Palace.