On a night in which millions celebrated a new year, the Phoenix Suns turned over a new leaf and held the Detroit Pistons to a remarkable 75 points en route to an easy 92-75 win Friday night.
“It was a much needed win for us; I thought we were aggressive from the start,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry told Suns.com. “We did a good job defensively. I thought we did a good job offensively too, as far as moving the basketball and getting shots. I thought we executed well on both ends of the court.”
It was evident early that the Suns’ Thursday practice dominated by defensive drills paid off. The Pistons scored just 14 points in the first quarter followed by 18 in the second quarter.
“Just like how frustrating the last game was [I've] got to tell you that it was a totally different team today and a huge, huge step forward,” Marcin Gortat said. “We did everything that we [talked] about the day before and [gave] a tremendous effort.”
Obviously something clicked. Phoenix forced Detroit into a half court offense that stifled any sort of run that would have allowed the Pistons back in the game.
The Suns led by 10 at the end of the first and 18 at halftime.
In the second half, with a big lead, Phoenix let up on the gas a bit but still held Detroit to just 26 and 17 points in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
“It should be easier for us to stay with this defense; we’ve just got to work hard,” Gortat said. “You’re not going to win a game at half speed or with only 80 percent effort. You’ve got to give everything that you’ve got and just finish the game and your tank must be empty.”
New Sun Vince Carter led Phoenix in points with 19. He also added eight rebounds and three assists.
Goran Dragic played 29 minutes, 10 more than Steve Nash. The backup point guard had eight points and five assists, and Phoenix outscored Detroit by 20 with Dragic in the game.
“I felt great on the court; I was just trying to make the right plays, involve the other players and just be aggressive on defense,” Dragic said. “Like I said, every game counts, so today I had a pretty good game. [Now] I have to play hard and good the next game. That’s how I’m going to get my confidence up.”
Not only was Detroit’s 75 the least amount of points Phoenix has allowed all season, this contest ended the Suns’ streak of 388 straight regular season game of allowing at least 76 points, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, which was the second longest streak of its kind behind only Golden State’s run of 593 consecutive games.
Friday was also the first time all year the Suns won a game without scoring more than 100 points.
Phoenix was riding a four-game losing streak heading into the game and needed a win badly to stay afloat.
Even though the defensive turnaround was put in against a bad Detroit team, it’s still a huge step in the right direction for a Suns squad that has been flat for the last week.
In their last game, the Suns allowed the 75-point mark to be reached by the 76ers at the 7:30 mark in the third quarter.