Newsroom Notes: Suns End 2010 With Win Over Pistons

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: Dec. 31, 2010

The Suns hope that their last game of 2010 is a sign of what is to come in 2011. Behind 19 points from Vince Carter and a terrific defensive effort, Phoenix marched to a 92-75 home victory over the Pistons on New Year’s Eve.

The Suns are hoping that the win marks the dawning of a new season: one complete with a new roster and one with an adjusted identity. In short, one that centers around defense.

On Friday, that focus was evident. The Suns held the Pistons to 32-percent shooting and just 14 points in the first period, setting a defensive tone for the entire night.

“Today everyone was in engaged and the rotation was good,” Suns guard Goran Dragic said. “It was really big win for us. Hopefully we’ll continue to play like this in the future.”

The 14-point period was the lowest the Suns have held a team to this season and marks their best defensive first quarter to the season. The Suns used their stingy defense to ignite an 11-0 run, which led to a 22-point second-quarter lead.

Phoenix then coasted to a 17-point halftime lead, holding the Pistons to 36-percent shooting for the half.

“In the past we had so many defensive coverages,” Dragic said. “Some games we were blue, some games we were green, but the last two practices we decided that we were going to double-team and go under. So today we just did that and everybody knew what we were doing.”

Mickael Pietrus received his first start with the Suns, scoring nine of his 11 points in the first quarter. The 6-6 Frenchman is averaging 17 points a game in his last three games.

On the defensive end, Suns swingman Jared Dudley was employed with pressuring Detroit's Tracy McGrady as he brought the ball up, while the rest of the Suns overplayed the passing lanes. The 18 points allowed by the Suns in the second quarter was the least they’ve allowed in the second quarter this season and the 32 points in the half was the least amount they’ve allowed in any half this season.

However, Dudley was not only instrumental on the defensive end, but also on the offensive end. He shot 3-of-6 from behind the arc to total 19 points.

Grant Hill was the other Suns player in double figures with 12.

“Yeah just like frustrating was last game I got to tell you that it was a totally different team today and a huge, huge step forward," Suns center Marcin Gortat said. "We did everything what we’ve been talking about the day before and a tremendous effort , tremendous will of winning."

It was the just the second time this season that the Suns have held an opponent to under 20 points in consecutive quarters. In addition, the Suns held the Pistons to 40.8-percent shooting and 75 points on the night, both were season lows for a Suns opponent this season.

"To just give up one 20-point quarter, was really good and we have to keep trying to build on that," Gentry said. “It was a much needed win for us. I thought we were aggressive from the start."

The Suns moved to 5-1 when holding opposing teams to less than 100 points. Phoenix looks to keep its defensive intensity alive when it visits the Kings on Sunday for its first game of 2011.

Magic in Phoenix

Since arriving in Phoenix, Suns center Marcin Gortat has produced two double-digit scoring efforts in two out of his first three games in the Valley. What’s notable is that he only reached double figures twice in 23 games with the Magic in 2010-11.

By posting double figures in two consecutive games, it also marked just the second time in his career that Gortat has reached double figures in two straight games. His fellow teammate, Mickael Pietrus, is also thriving in Phoenix.

The Suns swingman came into Friday night’s contest having scored 15 or more points in two-straight contests for the first time since December 2009. In fact, it was only the second time all season that he’d reached double figures in back-to-back games.

He’s also 10-of-19 from downtown in his last three contests.

Lineup Adjustment

With the Pistons starting Tracy McGrady, Coach Gentry decided to start swingman Mickael Pietrus instead of Channing Frye. With only one post-up player for Detroit starting, the Suns felt they could go smaller.

“Charlie (Villanueva) isn’t a post-up player and Goran (Dragic) plays well with Channing (Frye),” Gentry said. “He’s just more comfortable with Channing and we hope this helps get him going a little.”

Dragic responded, tallying eight points, five assists, a steal and a block.

Carter Recalls Former Sun

When the commercial of Amar’e Stoudemire came on the TV in the locker room showing a young STAT practicing his shot in high school, Vince Carter spoke up, saying that the former Sun really looked like that in high school.

Both Carter and Stoudemire both hail from Florida and Carter was well-aware of the young power forward when he was in high school. Carter remembered thinking that he knew that Stoudemire was talented, but couldn’t believe how quickly he matured in the NBA.

When he saw him dunking all over his fellow colleagues, Carter recalled thinking, “What the heck has he been eating?”

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