By Bob Baum, AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) – The Phoenix Suns have their first victory since Steve Nash left town.
Marcin Gortat had 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots and the Phoenix Suns held off a late Detroit rally to beat the Pistons 92-89 on Friday night for their first victory of the young season.
Michael Beasley scored 16 points for the Suns and Goran Dragic added 15 points and 10 assists. Shannon Brown scored 14 for Phoenix, 10 in the fourth quarter.
“If you have five, six, seven guys over 10 points, that means everybody’s dangerous for a basket,” Dragic said, `and the defense doesn’t know where the shot is going to come from.”
Gortat and Brown are among just five players still around after the team overhauled its roster in the wake of Nash’s departure to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I thought Goran was great,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “Once again he created a lot of open looks and we basically just have to be able to knock down the shots. Beasley had his moments. I thought he played great in certain situations. Marcin did a great job on the boards.”
Tayshaun Prince’s 18 points led six Pistons in double figures. Jason Maxiell added 15 points, all but two in the first quarter, and Brandon Knight had 13 points and 10 assists.
The Suns didn’t trail after scoring the last 12 points of the first half, six by Beasley, to go up 54-46.
“We just executed,” Gortat said. “We opened up the floor, set the screen, started to roll down and people were open for jump shots and different moves. We started to learn each other and what we like to do. That was a good stretch for us.”
After halftime, Detroit got no closer than six points until the final minute but still had a chance to tie it on the last possession, thanks to a clutch 3-pointer by rookie Kyle Singler.
Beasley’s 22-footer put Phoenix up 89-80 with 2:09 left. Knight hit a 3-pointer and Maxiell made one of two free throws to cut it to 89-84 with 51.5 seconds remaining. A shot clock violation gave the ball back to Detroit and Greg Monroe’s layup cut the lead to 89-86 with 21.3 seconds to go. P.J. Tucker’s layup boosted the lead to 91-86 with 13.7 seconds left. Then Singler’s step-back 3-pointer from the top of the key sliced it to 91-89 with 4.2 seconds to go.
The Suns’ Sebastian Telfair missed one of two free throws to give the Pistons a final chance but with Gortat charging toward him, Knight threw up an air ball at the buzzer.
“The last play you’d like to be able to get a good shot,” Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said, “but there was a whole lot more to the game than that last shot.”
The Pistons, losers at home to Houston in their season opener on Wednesday, used a 14-4 run to go up 39-28 on Jonas Jerebko’s three-point play with 8:11 left in the second quarter. Then Luis Scola scored seven points in an 11-2 spurt that cut Detroit’s lead to 41-39.
Prince and Dragic traded 3-pointers, then Monroe’s inside basket put the Pistons up 46-42 with 3 1-2 minutes left in the first half.
Scola made two 15-footers to start the Suns’ run. Beasley drew his third foul with 2:02 left, but Monroe missed the two free throws. Coach Alvin Gentry kept Beasley in the game and he scored the next six points. Dragic’s two free throws with 4.9 seconds left punctuated the surge that put Phoenix up by eight.
“We got off to a great start but we didn’t close that second quarter off and from seven minutes on we just didn’t play well at all,” Prince said.
Notes: The Suns went to a zone defense midway through the second quarter and used it occasionally. … Wes Johnson, who didn’t play in the season opener, made a 3-pointer with his first shot for Phoenix. … Detroit opened its longest trip of the season, six games, with the next stop Sunday to face the Lakers in Los Angeles. …. Phoenix has beaten Detroit seven of the last eight times they have played. …. The Suns, who played their first two games at home, are on the road for their next three, starting Sunday at Orlando.
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