After rallying on the road last night in Philadelphia to beat the 76ers to end a six game losing streak, the Detroit Pistons came back to The Palace on Saturday night to end a 5 game home losing streak. The Phoenix Suns stood in the way of that
Unlike last night, the Pistons got off to a fast start. Andre Drummond blocked three shots in the first three minutes and Brandon Jennings ran the break effectively. Jennings threw a pass off the backboard that Drummond threw down with authority to give the Pistons an early 12-3 lead and The Palace crowd was loud.
Jennings then found Greg Monroe and Josh Smith for layups and a 17-7 lead. Then Kyle Singler hopped off the bench and threw a lob to Smith who threw it down, and then Smith knocked down a jumper and then he bullied his way down low for a layup. Later, Jennings found Smith for an alley-oop slam and he found a cutting Singler for a dunk.
The Pistons were active with their hands and they kept getting out on the break. Jennings had 11 assists in the quarter, which tied Pistons great Isiah Thomas’ franchise record for most assists in a quarter. Smith poured in 15 points in the first as the Pistons led the Suns 35-21.
In the second quarter, Channing Frye knocked down a triple to bring Phoenix to within 9, but Charlie Villanueva answered with a triple of his own. Jennings then found Drummond for a layup, had a layup of his own, and found Villanueva for a layup.
Jennings’ stellar play continued as he found Rodney Stuckey for an easy layup and on the next possession gave it to Will Bynum for a layup. To end the half, Jennings missed a jumper, but Drummond tipped in his miss at the buzzer to give the Pistons a 64-51 halftime lead. Jennings tied another one of Thomas’ records with 16 first half assists.
To start the third quarter, Monroe had six straight points and Jennings was at it again finding rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a dunk and a 72-54 lead.
The Suns would fight all the way back to within 7 behind the play of reserve Ish Smith and P.J. Tucker. Smith found Tucker for a layup to make it 82-75. Bynum answered with back-to-back buckets and Detroit would push the lead to 89-79 after three.
So the dreaded fourth quarter. This has been the Pistons Achilles Heel all season long, tonight would be no different.
The Suns opened the fourth on a 7-0 run. Marcus Morris had a layup, newly signed Leandro Barbosa hit a 3, and Smith had a layup to bring Phoenix to within 89-86. Later, the Suns would tie the game on a Tucker 3 followed by a Frye 3 with 6:55 left.
Caldwell-Pope then knocked down a huge triple to break the tie and Smith found the rookie again for a layup on the break to push the Pistons lead back to 97-92. Later, Bynum hit a pull up jumper to make it a 105-98 Pistons lead and it seemed like the Pistons has this one in the bag, wrong.
The Suns went on a 7-0 run to the game at 105 as Frye had an And-1, Goran Dragic hit some free throws, and Tucker hit a 3 to tie it with 51.2 seconds left.
Then, Smith came through.
The play was originally set up for Monroe on the low block. After the Suns blocked that plank Bynum tried to put his head down and drive to the rim. Phoenix blocked that attempt too. So with the shot clock winding down, he threw it out to Smith at the 3-point line. Smith threw it up off balance and it ripped the net. The Palace crowd went wild, Detroit led 108-105 with 26 seconds left.
However, Smith giveth and Smith taketh away. Smith fouled Phoenix’s Gerald Green on a 3-point attempt and he drained all three. The game was tied at 108 with 4.3 seconds left.
Head coach Maurice Cheeks decided to go back to the man they call “J Smoove”. Smith took the ball and drove right to the rim, flipped it up, filled it up, and with 1.2 seconds left the Pistons had a 110-108 lead. Green missed at the buzzer on the other end and Detroit escaped.
For the second straight night, Smith was terrific. He had 25 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Here’s the best part about that stat line, he shot an efficient 11/16 from the field and he only shot one 3-pointer, which he made.
Jennings finished with eight points, eight rebounds, and 18 assists, Monroe had a strong game with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Drummond had 13 and 13.
This ends the Pistons five game home losing streak and they earned their first home win over a Western Conference opponent this season.
This also puts the Pistons back in the playoff picture. Thanks to the Brooklyn Nets’ loss in Toronto and the Charlotte Bobcats’ loss in Chicago, the Pistons take over the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons will now have another five day break before hosting the Utah Jazz on Friday.