Pistons falter in second quarter vs. Suns, lose second straight


The Detroit Pistons dropped their second straight game on Friday night, losing 92-89 out West to the Phoenix Suns. Considering the youth of this team, it’s not surprising that several of the Pistons’ problems from their first game continued in this one, but against a team like the Suns, who figure to be in a rebuilding year, this was a disappointing loss.

Brandon Knight was easily the team’s best player, scoring 13 points, dishing out 10 assists, grabbing five rebounds and turning the ball over just twice – a problem for him in his rookie season. Detroit will need him to continue having these types of games if they hope to grow and develop into a playoff team.

Big man Greg Monroe, however, had a pretty pedestrian effort, something that Piston fans have not seen in his early career with the team. It took him 17 shots to score just 10 points, and for such a skilled low post player, he looked passive in shooting jumpers and not banging down low for position. It doesn’t help that he finished with four fouls, but Suns center Marcin Gortat abused Monroe to the tune of 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks. The man known as Moose has to elevate his game if he hopes to become the All-Star most of us expect him to become.

Notes from the game:

  • The team’s second unit of Andre Drummond, Kim English, Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko and Will Bynum have quickly become the most exciting bench for the team since their championship seasons in the mid-2000’s. From Bynum-to-Drummond alley-oops to English and Singler hustling on defense, this group of players is a much-needed boost off the pine for head coach Lawrence Frank. Those five contributed 31 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two blocks to the team – much more production than we’ve seen in years.
  • Rodney Stuckey continued his awful start to the year, going 0-of-7 from the field and scoring just one point. He did contibute four assists, four rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes, but a shooting guard who is 1-of-17 from the field in two games will never cut it in the NBA. He’ll need to get right, and quick, for the Pistons to get their first win of the year.
  • For the second straight game, Detroit let a team control a large portion of the game and take over. Against Houston, the Pistons fell apart in the fourth quarter; in this game, it was the second quarter that contributed to the team’s losing effort. After going up 28-24 after 12 minutes, the Suns outscored the Pistons 30-18 in the second frame and did just enough the rest of the game to stay ahead. Keeping composure with a lead is crucial to success in this league – it’s something that Detroit’s young core is learning the hard way.
  • The Pistons’ defense was actually pretty good in this game: 43.5% shooting for the Suns,with just two made three-pointers. They also forced 12 turnovers and just three fast break points. Unfortunately, they also allowed Phoenix to grab 15 offensive rebounds (52 total) leading to plenty of second opportunities on the offensive end. After giving up 50 points in the paint to Houston, the Suns were able to score 48. For a team with such athletic big men, that’s a number that has got to come down.

The Pistons will continue their West Coast swing against the win-less Lakers on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. In a bit of a surprising start to the season, Los Angeles has dropped their first three games, despite several impressive outings by newcomer Dwight Howard (19 and 10 against Dallas; 33 and 14 against Portland; 13 points, eight rebounds, five blocks against the Clippers).

One of the highlights of last season for the Pistons was their 88-85 overtime victory against the Lakers. Unfortunately, this game is in LA, where the home team has won the last two meetings by a combined 38 points. If Detroit hopes to avoid an 0-3 start, they’ll need to fix some things quickly.