PHOENIX - The Phoenix Suns played two very similar games to start the 2012-13 season.
They featured poor Phoenix starts, inspired play to end the first half, close finishes down the stretch and a chance to win, lose or tie in the final seconds. Friday's result, a 92-89 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, left them even at 1-1.
But Suns forward Luis Scola knows that if the Suns want to be more than a .500 team, they'll need to flip the script -- especially early on.
"It's always good to know that we can react and play well, but we're going to lose a lot of games if we let teams get away early in the game," said Scola, who had all 13 of his points in the first half including 11 in the second quarter to dig the Suns out of an 11-point hole. "When you are home and the fans give you a little push, you can come back.
"But on the road, sometimes you (fall behind) and that's it, you can never come back. We have to put ourselves in a better situation and give ourselves more margin for error, or we'll have a lot of games like this one."
Marcin Gortat scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and Shannon Brown added 10 of his 14 points in the second, but the Suns almost let a 10-point lead get away in the final four minutes. They needed a PJ Tucker layup off a Goran Dragic feed with 13.7 seconds left for the winning points and had to survive Brandon Knight's game-tying 3-point attempt miss at the buzzer to avenge a season-opening, two-point loss to Golden State on Wednesday.
Michael Beasley rebounded from a dismal Suns debut to score 16 points and seven rebounds, and Dragic added 15 points and 10 assists.
Tayshaun Prince had 18 points to lead the Pistons, who lost at home to Houston on Wednesday and didn't fare any better on the first stop of a six-game road trip that includes visits to the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver and Oklahoma City. Letting an early 39-28 lead get away was deflating.
"The second quarter was the difference," Prince said. "For us to play that well at the start and still be down by eight ... I think that's the most disturbing part. For the most part we got better from (Wednesday's 105-96 home loss) but obviously it's not enough and we still have a lot of work to do."
Rookie Kyle Singler hit a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left to pull the Pistons to within 91-89 and Phoenix's Sebastian Telfair hit one of two free throws with 3.6 seconds left to give Detroit one last shot. But Prince didn't see Singler pop open on the inbounds play and Knight's 3-point attempt was off the mark as the Pistons lost for the seventh time in the last eight meetings with the Suns.
"There were a couple of different options on the last play and 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. They made 24 of their 40 field goals in the paint and we missed 24 shots in the paint. When you're missing open shots and things aren't going your way, you've got to be able to lock in and you've got to be able to defend."
The Pistons went cold over the final eight minutes of the first half and the Suns ended the quarter with a 26-7 run, with Scola and Beasley doing most of the damage. Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry was pleased with his team's 52-39 rebounding edge and five guys reaching double figures on a night when guard Jared Dudley made just one shot.
"If you have five, six, seven guys scoring over 10 points that means everybody is dangerous for a basket and the defense doesn't know where the shot is going to come from," Dragic said. "We weren't selfish tonight. We passed the ball around and whoever has the better shot is going to take it."
NOTES: Tucker's 10-point Suns debut against Golden State on Wednesday was his second career double-digit NBA game. The first was on Dec. 19, 2006 -- a span of 2,143 days -- when he hit put up 12 points for Toronto at Phoenix. ... The Pistons came into the game averaging only 88.4 points in their last seven games against the Suns. ... Detroit's Corey Maggette (left calf strain) missed his second game in three nights. ... Scola had 15 points and 10 rebounds in his Phoenix debut, the first Sun to manage those levels in his first game since Tom Gugliotta in 1999. ... The Pistons were 7-26 on the road last season and since the start of the 2009-10 season have a .226 winning percentage away from The Palace of Auburn Hills.