Suns 117, Pistons 91 — Home sweet home

Posted by on November 22nd, 9:23 pm

PHOENIX — Suns head coach Alvin Gentry often talks about the importance of winning home games because of how difficult it is to win on somebody else’s home floor in the NBA.

Phoenix has not exactly had the most difficult home schedule to start the year, but the Suns routed another victim nonetheless Sunday night at US Airways Center, this time taking down the road-weary Detroit Pistons, 117-91.

The Suns remained one of three perfect home teams in running their home mark to 5-0, winning games by an average of 15.4 points per contest with three of the five wins being 20-point blowouts.

The Suns have also won 14 straight home games overall, with their last home defeat coming on March 12, and 19 of 22 since Gentry took over the head seat.

“It’s just as we say, we have to try to hold serve at home every game because it is so tough to win on the road,” Gentry said. “It was a good win.”

With the victory the Suns bounced back from their first real disappointing loss of the season, an effortless game against an overmatched New Orleans squad that just outhustled Phoenix to a major rebounding advantage.

Gentry expected such an effort from New Orleans after the Suns tagged the Hornets with their best half of the season the week before, but this time around energy was no issue for Phoenix against a tired Detroit squad that lost last night in Utah in overtime. It was, however, for the Pistons.

The Suns stayed about even on the boards (losing the glass battle 39-38) but shot the lights out to take down the Pistons.

Phoenix shot a season-best 57.5 percent from the floor and 61.1 percent from beyond the arc (11-for-18) to score a bounce back win by a season-high margin. This against a Detroit squad that entered the game allowing 43.3 percent shooting from the field and 30.2 percent shooting from distance, both good for No. 3 rankings in the NBA.

“I knew we were going to respond well,” said Jason Richardson, who chipped in with 17. “It was a letdown in New Orleans, but we’re playing good basketball. I knew we were going to pick it back up.

“We came out here, we did the job. We did everything right. We shared the ball on offense, we helped each other on defense, and the most important thing is we rebounded tonight, so it’s a great win for us.”

The Suns played a dominant second quarter (winning it 29-16) and cruised from there after the Pistons hung around in the first. The bench once again played a major part, streaking out to a 7-0 run early in the quarter before the starters ended it with a 9-0 spurt of their own to help the Suns open up a 16-point halftime advantage.

Phoenix had fallen behind by double figures in its past four games, and although the Suns won two of them and nearly won a third in New Orleans, they didn’t want to have to fight another uphill battle even if they have proven adept at doing just that.

“Tonight there was definitely an emphasis on starting the game early,” Amare Stoudemire said. “We don’t want to keep fighting back. There were a lot of times this year we were down eight or so points and had to fight back into it.  We wanted to come out early and create the lead early and then prolong the lead as opposed to coming back from a deficit.”

Steve Nash looked for his offense in an aggressive 10-point, four-assist first quarter, and Amare brought the hammer in the first half as well, going for 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

For the game Amare scored a game-high 21 points. He’s now recorded four straight 20-point outings since his stinker in Los Angeles, his longest such streak since pulling the trick 11 consecutive times Nov. 30-Dec. 25 of last year. Amare is averaging 24.3 points per game on 63.6 percent shooting the past four games and is starting to resemble the Amare of old.

“Again, going seven months with no basketball is the longest I’ve ever went, so it’s slowly getting myself back into a rhythm out there, but it’s improving,” Amare said.

Added Grant Hill: “I thought early on in the season he was settling for jump shots, and now he’s attacking. He’s getting to the rim, he’s getting to the free-throw line, he’s dunking on people. He’s mixing it up. Early on he was relying on his curveball. Now he’s mixing it up with his changeups, his curve, his fastball, and when he does that he’s hard to stop and we’re hard to stop as a team.”

With the win the Suns improved to a Western Conference-best 11-3, and with four winnable games on the horizon they aren’t done yet.

It’s encouraging to see this squad dismantle a team that it should on its home court, but the Suns’ captain doesn’t want his teammates to take too much stock in the standings board displayed in the corner of Phoenix’s locker room.

“This team has to remain hungry and humble and not get caught up with where we are in the standings,” Nash said. “We feel like we’ve arrived, but that’s probably the kiss of death, so we have to continue to feel like the underdog and continue to work every day this season to get better and better. If we do that we’ll continue to improve, and then if that’s the case I think we’ll have a really fun year, a year with a lot of wins.”

Beware of falling fans

Midway through the fourth quarter with the scrubs in and the game securely in the ‘W’ column I heard an ear-shattering “THUD” right next to me.

I looked down and there was a fan face up on the floor between myself and the Suns’ Spanish radio broadcasters.

It was an eerie sight as the fan, who had to be in his 20’s, kept his eyes closed and seemed to be unconscious with a huge welt on his head. The paramedics rushed in and all of a sudden he was strapped into a stretcher and eventually carried off as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

This guy, who may or may not have had a few too many, was standing high on the railing behind me trying to catch a T-shirt. It really is amazing how much fans want a cheap shirt that they’ll probably never wear.

I’m not sure if he fell and hit the ground first or if his head knocked my table first, but hearing the blow was really scary. Scarier is the fact that if our press section was full, I would have been one seat over and he probably would have landed right on top of me, sending both of us to the hospital with concussions worse than what Kurt Warner suffered today.

I chatted with this victim and his friend a couple times earlier in the evening, which made the whole thing more real to me. They were good guys about my age who were curious about what exactly I was doing on Daily Dime Live during the game, and his friend won a Flip Cam exactly like what I use during postgame interviews for correctly answering a trivia question in front of the entire crowd.  Minutes before the fall they were telling me what a great night they were having.

The moral of this story is clear: don’t drink and stand on a ledge during the T-shirt toss.

But seriously, my prayers are with this fan. I hope to see him cheering his lungs out at a Suns game soon, and hopefully I won’t need to bring a hard hat next time I head to US Airways Center.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire · Detroit Pistons · Phoenix Suns Recap

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ruben Rivera // Nov 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    The Suns are the best team in the NBA at this time and if they keep it up which they show they will they will win the championship in 5 games

  • 2 Kyle Fleeger // Nov 22, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    I wanted more Amar’e. I think Gentry should have played him rather than Hill late in the third and early fourth to get him around 30 points. Amar’e looked great tonight but scorers like to score and he should get more looks with another 9-14 performance. He is just too much underneath for players, but we revert to these grant hill, J Rich isolations on the wing. They are fine for when Amar’e is out of the box on a pick n’ roll or high screen, but, unless there is a massive mismatch, they shouldn’t happen. I didn’t like seeing Earl get so few minutes… it makes me think he hasn’t been hustling or playing team ball in practice to see Alando get minutes before him.

    Nice Home win. 13 straight going back to last year at home. Suns have Memphis at home which we should hopefully breeze through before another rough road stretch. Go SUNS!

  • 3 Ruben Rivera // Nov 22, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    I love the Suns and they are the best team in any sport in the entire world without a doubt! They could win the fifa cup if they felt like it

  • 4 Ruben Rivera // Nov 22, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Funk all who oppose the Phoenix Suns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 5 Mike Meez // Nov 23, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Got to go to the game tonight, my first of the year! It was nice to see a blowout win after witnessing the heartbreaking UA loss to Oregon the night before.

    I agree, Kyle. I was disappointed we didn’t get to see more of Earl Clark. The second squad got a lot of playing time tonight but Clark wasn’t part of it until the last couple minutes. I believe Clark is already better than Tucker and I think everyone would agree that he has more potential so I’m wondering what gives? I think it’s a very plausible explanation that he’s not working hard enough in practice to earn his minutes; I can’t think of anything else.

    As a side note, I was quite pleased with the new Suns Dancers.

  • 6 KJ Loyalist // Nov 23, 2009 at 1:30 am

    No need to play Sun Tzu or any of the other starters when they don’t need it. I’m happy that Gentry has the sense to take his big guns off of the front lines when they aren’t needed.

    I’d much rather get those bench and young guys that needed experience to be out there at NBA game speed.

    Clark doesn’t get the same amount of run as some of the other bench players because he’s being taught the system slowly. As the system goes on and he’s more comfortable in what he needs to be doing you’ll see more of him. Sometimes he looks like a deer in the headlights out there. Before he can be on the floor he needs to know what he’s doing out there.

    As far as tucker goes, I don’t know. I’m not sure why he can’t seem to crack the rotation no matter who the head coach is. Perhaps some of the writers can go in-depth on that. He seems to be a great guard who actually has a back-to-the-basket game. Maybe he can’t shoot.

    If you can’t shoot in the valley of the sun, you won’t run.

  • 7 Kyle Fleeger // Nov 23, 2009 at 1:35 am

    KJ Loyalist, your argument about getting the young players minutes is fine. But you are ignoring that the people in instead of Amar'e in the early fourth were Grant Hill (certainly not a young guy) and Channing Frye, who is also a veteran starter… My point is, in these situations, it is probably a good idea to let Amar'e go out there and have a game of his own. He is a remarkable scorer and probably the only guy in the league capable of what he is, not asking for the ball at all.

    He is content not scoring a million if the team is fun and winning, but because he is making those sacrifices, we could reward him with some minutes for a big game.

    Alando is Terrible and Earl learning things slowly still doesn't help to explain why in garbage time he doesn't see minutes.

    Check out Ifiredterryporter.com

  • 8 Mrtistrm // Nov 23, 2009 at 8:54 am

    hi! *innocent* is amare a pg? He sure did a great job on the boards! Five freaking rebouds!

    a max player playing into his contract year avg 7 rebound! Im suprise we are winning at all.

  • 9 KJ Loyalist // Nov 23, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Kyle Fleeger, of course Channing Frye is going to get more burn in blowout situations as he is still being worked into the Suns system and, by default, will get those minutes over Amare (rest), and Collins (system integrity).

    Grant Hill always rolls out at the beginning of the fourth with the second unit whether we're up by 10 or down by 1. He gives that unit stability and he is Gentry's insurance policy.

    Amare doesn't need to have monster numbers in games and quarters that don't matter. What is the point? It's also a good thing that he gets as much rest as possible in these early games because he still isn't anywhere near 100% as far as his conditioning goes.

    If he doesn't have to be on the floor he shouldn't be. Garbage time minutes in a blowout game here or there will not help his conditioning. What it will do is increase his risk of injury, and for what? 7 more points on a stat sheet?

    To be honest, you should be thanking the gods above the valley of the sun that Gentry pulls the big stars so early. It shows that not only does he have faith in his bench, but that he wants to continue to polish them. He understands that we can't go 7 deep and survive in the playoffs. The stars will be rested and the bench will be more than adequate as we get into April and beyond.

    Just like in any sport, if you don't know the "playbook" you won't see the field, (or in this case the court). When Gentry puts his bench out here he expects them to play the exact same way as the starts in the exact same system. If Clark doesn't know every play like the back of his hand, he shouldn't get burn while the rest of the bench builds that cohesive mindset.

    As the season goes on, Clark will get his run. He'll get more comfortable and his understanding will increase. Like Amare, he needs practice time and a proper environment to get up to full power. He doesn't need garbage time.

    Also, saying Tucker is "terrible" without any reasoning doesn't solve the riddle as to why *he* can't crack the rotation. For most teams I wouldn't mind, but the Suns seem to always have that guy on the end of the bench that we don't use but as soon as he ends up on another team, he explodes.

  • 10 Ryan Bonagura // Nov 23, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Michael, I was the fan who won the camera. What a great game up until my friend fell over into your area. After a fun ride to the hospital he has a baseball on the side of his face. Good luck

  • 11 Andre // Nov 23, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Mrtistrm, LMAO!

    I’m a big Amare fan. Unfortunately, he needs to pick up his Defense and rebounding, bit time…his offense is unbelievable. Still, I’m starting to think we should start Lou and have amare come in every now and then. It’s sad when you have a bench that is better than the starters on defense. Maybe THAT”S the reason for the suns up and down lead changes in games.

  • 12 Andre // Nov 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    *BIG TIME

    Also, I don’t see Grant Hill and Channing Frye playing in garbage time such a bad thing….I agree with KJ, Nice insurance during the game.

  • 13 Ham_Aber // Nov 24, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Amare is playing weak basketball. Anytime a Sun puts up a shot, he just starts to back up. I just think that he doesn’t want to put in the extra effort to go after the ball. How can you only grab 5 boards? He’s 6’10, I honestly can’t remember when he has had a 10+ rebound game.

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