While the Phoenix Suns have generally looked strong in their climb to the top of the Western Conference, they’ve had some lackluster performances in their losses.
The Suns look to bounce back from one of those defeats and avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season Sunday when they host the Detroit Pistons, who are trying to snap a four-game skid.
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last season, Phoenix (10-3) has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the league. With a potent offense led by Steve Nash(notes), the Suns have scored 100 or more points in each of their first 13 games and are tied with Dallas atop the West.
While it has been an encouraging start overall, Phoenix has looked flat in its losses to Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans, getting outscored by an average of 16.0 points.
Phoenix allowed the Hornets to connect on 52.0 percent (13 of 25) of their 3-pointers, and also got pushed around in the paint. New Orleans outrebounded the Suns 56-38 and the Hornets’ 25 offensive rebounds helped produce 38 second-chance points, compared to 13 for Phoenix.
“We didn’t really have any attention to detail, we gave up a lot of rebounds and our concentration and effort weren’t good enough. And if we’re honest, we didn’t deserve to win,” said Nash, who finished with 13 points and 10 assists. “Hopefully it’s a lesson we’ll learn from, and we won’t have many nights like that this year.”
Phoenix hopes it can turn things around against a road-weary Detroit team coming off a 100-97 overtime loss to Utah on Saturday.
Ben Gordon(notes), who is averaging 30.0 points in his last six games against the Suns, scored 25 Saturday but missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the final second as the Pistons (5-8) suffered their fourth straight defeat.
Detroit’s biggest problems have come on the road, where it has lost six of seven including the first three of this four-game trip.
The Pistons are now in danger of completing their longest winless road trip since going 0-5 from Feb. 24-March 2, 2003.
Detroit has won seven of nine in Phoenix, but one of the defeats came in last season’s visit, 104-86 on Nov. 16, 2008.
The Suns, who are 4-0 at home this season, also won in Detroit in 2008-09, sweeping the season series for the first time since 1999-2000. Nash averaged 16.0 points and 14.0 assists against Detroit in the two meetings while Amare Stoudemire averaged 23.5 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Stoudemire is averaging 25.3 points on 63.4 percent shooting in three games since finishing with a season-low eight points and shooting 2 of 15 in a 121-102 loss to the Lakers on Nov. 12. He scored a team-high 23 in Thursday’s defeat.