Time: 5:30 p.m. MST
Good teams beat who they’re supposed to beat.
No, defeating the likes of Cleveland and Washington won’t impress anyone, but losing to them sure would do some damage.
Just 10 days ago the Suns found themselves six games under .500 and on the heels of an embarrassing 132-98 loss to Denver.
Now, with a win against a bad Pistons team Saturday, Phoenix will finally even out its record for the first time since Dec. 19.
The Suns handled Detroit fairly easily the last time the two teams faced on New Year’s Eve.
Phoenix held the Pistons to an astonishing 75 points en route to the 17-point victory. Detroit only scored more than 20 points in one quarter the whole game.
Goran Dragic also played 29 minutes in that contest, 10 more than Steve Nash.
Perhaps Phoenix can repeat that performance and give its starters some much-needed rest on this long East Coast swing.
The Suns finish the five-game road trip on Monday against a 76ers team that rolled them by 13 when they last played in Phoenix a couple weeks ago. And that was when Philadelphia was playing without its All-Star Andre Iguodala.
But it appears now Phoenix is a different team.
No, they haven’t been playing against the greatest of competition, but that might have been just what the doctor ordered for this team to find itself.
Every night someone else is stepping up and lifting the team to a new height.
Last night it was Channing Frye, who drilled seven three-pointers including a few clutch ones to help Phoenix pull away.
Before that it was Grant Hill coming off an injury and scoring multiple 25-point games for the first time in years.
The one constant has been the absurd play of Nash. The veteran leads all NBA point guards in double-double games with 24.
Last night against the Wizards he had 17 and 14 in 32 minutes.
Another revelation from this trip has been the increasing minutes of Marcin Gortat and the shrinking minutes of Robin Lopez.
Gortat has been killing his counterpart in the plus-minus category.
Against Washington, Gortat was plus-19 and Lopez was minus-4 (the only Suns player with a negative ratio).
Against the Cavaliers the game before, Gortat was a team-high plus-24 while Lopez was minus-5.
That stat doesn’t always tell the whole story, but a 52-point difference over a two game span is a lot to ignore.
Phoenix has won the last five meetings with Detroit by an average of 17 points per game.
Putting away the Pistons early will be huge tonight. Letting a mediocre team hang around will only give them more confidence and hurt the Suns’ chances to complete the five-game sweep Monday in Philly.
Ben Gordon will be an interesting Piston to look after. He’s averaging over 25 points in his last nine games against Phoenix.
Both of these teams use their benches a lot.
One Detroit player who likely will not be seeing action tonight is Rip Hamilton, who finds himself out of the Pistons’ rotation.
The Pistons are 13 games under .500 but are still only three games out of eighth place in the East.
Charlie Villanueva apparently announced that he won’t be playing tonight in the most curious way on Twitter by tweeting: “Some Fantasy league owners won’t be happy with me today; don’t forget to adjust your lineups.” He then retweeted Pistons.com writer Keith Langlois’ tweet from the night before saying Villanueva would miss the rest of Detroit’s Friday night game in New Jersey with his left ankle sprain. … Langlois has also tweeted that Ben Wallace is active but might be an emergency big and the Pistons might monitor Tracy McGrady’s minutes with this being a back-to-back situation.