Pistons 105, Suns 83
PHOENIX (AP)—So much for the conventional wisdom that the NBA’s West is far stronger than the East.
The Detroit Pistons swept that theory away with their first 5-0 trip through the West in 15 years.
They punctuated the journey with a 105-83 rout of Phoenix on Friday night, handing the Suns by far their most one-sided home loss and second-worst defeat overall this season. Next up for Detroit is a home matchup Sunday against Dallas, a showdown between the top teams in the two divisions.
“I don’t think it’s just 5-0. I think it’s how we played,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “More importantly, we played the way we thought we’ve got to play in the playoffs.”
Reserve Flip Murray scored a season-high 25 points to lead the romp over a Phoenix team that has the NBA’s second-best record, had won six in a row and was coming off an epic 129-127 double-overtime win at Dallas on Wednesday.
Murray, playing most of the night in place of injured Chauncey Billups, made 12 of 16 shots and had a season-best six steals.
“People know what I can do in this league,” Murray said. “I’ve done it before. When somebody went out and I had a chance to play, I did it before. You’ve just got to be patient and wait for your turn and just make the best of it.”
Billups left the game with a strained left groin midway through the second quarter.
“It’s been coming on for about two weeks,” Billups said. “I’ve been feeling it. Finally it just went a little bit, but I know it’s not too bad because I can walk right now. I’ll be all right.”
The Suns were listless and careless, matching their season-worst with 22 turnovers—seven by Stoudemire—and making 2-of-15 3-pointers.
“It’s just too bad that we kind of gave back what we won on Wednesday,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That’s too bad, but it happens. We’ll see what kind of moxie we have and we’ll come back tomorrow.”
Phoenix fell 3 1/2 games behind Dallas in the competition for the best record in the league. The Suns complete a stretch of four games in six days at Denver on Saturday night in a matchup of potential first-round playoff foes.
D’Antoni called the loss an “old-fashioned butt-whipping,” but he thought his team was emotionally spent from its Wednesday night victory.
Stoudemire, though, said that shouldn’t have been the case.
“We should have came out with a lot more intensity, knowing that they’re the best team in the East and it’s a potential finals matchup,” Stoudemire said. “They came out there and they played hard.”
The Pistons, home against Dallas on Sunday, made 8-of-14 3s in the most lopsided win of their trip. Meanwhile, they held the NBA’s highest-scoring team to its lowest point total of the season, nearly 18 points below the Suns’ season average.
“They did a great job of playing inside-out,” Stoudemire said. “That’s good old playoff basketball they played out there tonight, and we just stooped down to their level. We didn’t have too many fast-break points. We didn’t attack like we needed to.”
Detroit took the lead for good midway through the second quarter.
The Pistons outscored Phoenix 11-4 over the final 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to lead 75-64 entering the fourth.
The final quarter turned into a laugher. Wallace’s 3-pointer with 8:58 to play put the Pistons up 85-70. After the basket, referee Mike Callahan called a technical on Wallace, his NBA-leading 17th of the season.
Wallace already has served a one-game suspension after his 16th technical. One more and he has to sit out another game.
The Suns briefly cut it to 12 with 8 minutes to play, but a 7-0 spurt put Phoenix away for good.
Nash, the NBA assist leader at 11.7 per game, had one in the first half. … Phoenix tied its season low in points in the first half (43) and points in the second quarter at 17. … The Pistons are the only Eastern Conference team with a winning road record (23-10). … Marion became the first player in the NBA this season to have at least 100 blocks and 100 steals. … Despite the loss, Phoenix finished with a franchise-best 25-5 record against the Eastern Conference. Four of the losses were at home.