Phoenix’s Reserves Play Strong In Win Over Detroit

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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The Phoenix Suns turned to defense to snap a four-game losing streak.

Jared Dudley scored nine of his 19 points during a decisive run in the second quarter and the Suns held an opponent to a season-low scoring total in a 92-75 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

“I told the guys ‘We are going to start judging our defense from this day forward,”‘ Suns coach Alvin Gentry said.

The Suns defended with purpose after allowing more than 100 points in 10 of their last 11 games — losing seven during that stretch. One day after Gentry ran the team through a 2 ½-hour practice with defense the emphasis, Phoenix held Detroit to 41 percent shooting from the field (31 for 76) by forcing the Pistons into a hesistant half-court offense.

“We didn’t care about offense because you figure if you can defend, you can score every time,” Suns guard Goran Dragic said. “Everybody was engaged, everyone was pressuring. Rotation was good. Hopefully we’re going to play like this in the future.”

On offense, Phoenix’s reserves built a big lead in the second quarter that helped the Suns take control of the game. Dudley made three 3-pointers during a 22-4 run over seven minutes of the period, and backup point guard Dragic hit two 3s of his own to help the Suns to a 50-28 lead.

Vince Carter also scored 19 points and had eight rebounds as Phoenix won its second in the last six home games.

Ben Gordon scored 19 points to lead the Pistons. Tayshaun Prince added 12 and Charlie Villanueva had 10.

Suns center Marcin Gortat, who had some harsh words for the way his team played defense in Wednesday’s 123-110 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, glowed with compliments Friday.

“It was a totally different team. Huge, huge step forward,” Gortat said. “We did everything that we’ve been talking about. Now we’ve just got to stay on it. We can’t be satisfied with this one win.”

After Steve Nash made back-to-back 3s to stretch Phoenix’s lead to 68-49 with 3:20 left in the third quarter, the Pistons closed the period with a 9-0 run to pull within 10.

Detroit couldn’t get closer, though.

“We get into where they we attacking and kicking out and shooting 3s,” Detroit coach John Kuester said. “We were just taking one pass and shot.”

The Suns opened the final quarter on a 9-2 run, the final three by Carter off a kick-out pass from Gortat to make the score 77-60 with 9:38 left.

“We were not moving the ball a lot,” Gordon said. “The sets we were running weren’t helping us. We never really made adjustments.”

Phoenix led 24-14 after one quarter, as Dudley made four free throws in the final 30 seconds and Mickael Pietrus scored nine points while playing the entire quarter.

The Pistons made only six of 19 shots in the opening quarter, but cut the Suns’ lead to four, 28-24, on a three-pointer from Richard Hamilton.

Then the Suns, with most of their starters on the bench, got hot.

Carter, the one starter who remained on the floor for much of the second quarter, scored seven points during the decisive stretch.

Notes

•Both team’s coaches made late changes to their respective starting lineups before tipoff, with Phoenix inserting Pietrus for Channing Frye at forward for defensive purposes and Detroit countering at forward with Tracy McGrady starting for Jason Maxiell.
•Pistons G Rodney Stuckey, the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game, missed his second straight game due to a stomach virus.
•Coach Alvin Gentry said before the game that the Suns’ goal remains a playoff spot. Phoenix ended Friday night’s game two places out of the top eight in the Western Conference.
•Phoenix F Gani Lawal, the team’s second-round draft pick this year, made his NBA debut and played the last two minutes of the game.
Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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