For those who weren’t aware, the Phoenix Suns are officially the hottest team in the NBA.
After handling the Detroit Pistons 109-94 in the Palace of Auburn Hills tonight, the Suns have now won 10 consecutive games (six straight road games), reached the 50-victory plateau, while currently boasting the league’s best record since Jan. 28 at 24-5.
With the win, Phoenix is now in a dead heat for the No. 2 seed in the West with the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz — who play the Lakers tonight.
As has been the case during the winning streak, the Suns took care of business tonight and convincingly handed Detroit its 10th consecutive loss, thanks to 15-of-29 shooting from distance and a combined 49 points from Western Conference Player of the Month Amare Stoudemire (29 points) and Jared Dudley (20 points).
The Pistons are a borderline terrible ball club, and the Suns waltzed to 109 points on 56.2 pecent shooting, while frustrating Detroit into 43.9 percent shooting from the field and 2-of-11 from distance.
STAT put up an extremely efficient 29 points on only 15 shots, while Dudley was dialed in from deep as he splashed a career-high six threes on only seven attempts and even found time to conduct a Grant Hill-hosted JMZ postgame interview.
“They tried to take a lot of the inside stuff away from Amare on the rolls, and then the only guy to help us is the weak side guy and we are pretty good at playing the ball unselfishly and getting it to the weak side guy,” he added. “I thought that Jared obviously shot the ball well from there, but I also think that in general I thought we shot it well from three and that opened up everything for us.”
The Suns never really ran away from the Pistons after pushing their lead to 17, but they kept their foot on the gas long enough to come away with a ‘W.’ STAT set the tone early for Phoenix, as he scored 11 in the first, helping the Suns to a 26-23 lead after one. Amare finished the half with 19, but a late second-quarter Pistons run cut Phoenix’s halftime lead to only six.
The Suns stretched their lead to 12 after three quarters, and three Dudley trey-balls in the first six minutes of the fourth helped Phoenix run away with it.
“The last couple of games I have been shooting the ball well from three and it started early from the wing and then I hit my toughest one over (Ben) Wallace and after that I had it going,” Dudley told Suns.com. “Besides that one they were open and it was all in rythm and I wasn’t forcing shots. I could have forced up two more threes, but that isn’t my style. I took the shot when I was supposed to take it, and that is what I did tonight.”
Grant Hill also chipped in with a season-high three three-pointers en route to a vintage 17-point, eight-assist, six-rebound performance in a team-high 38 minutes of play in his old stomping grounds.
As for Stoudemire, although he only grabbed six boards, he has quickly become one of the NBA’s most efficient scorers. Shooting 13-for-15 is fairly unprecedented, and if you add in the fact that he shot 3-for-8 from the line, he could have easily scored 30 or more for the fifth time in the last 10 games.
Everything is swell on Planet Orange right now. The Suns are the NBA’s hottest team, they’ve won 11 of their last 13 on the road, Amare Stoudemire is continuing beast mode, they are currently battling for a No. 2 seed, and maybe most importantly, they aren’t actually advertising the Annexus Group on their jerseys (April Fools).
To win 10 games in a row in the NBA says a lot, but to be honest, these have been games that the Suns should have won — the combined record of their last six opponents is 113-317 (.356 win percentage). And that streak of beating teams that your supposed to needs to continue against the Bucks tomorrow if the Suns have their eyes on the No. 2 seed and a home-court playoff series against most likely the Blazers or Thunder.
According to Pistons head coach John Kuester, there is no doubting the Suns’ motives.
“They’re on a roll right now,” he said. “They’re on a mission.”