Preview: Suns vs. Pistons
By MATT BEARDMORE, AP
Posted Nov 01 2012 1:21PM
It might take some time for the new-look Phoenix Suns to start jelling.
The young Detroit Pistons are hoping it doesn't take long for them to learn how to win. Phoenix will try to avoid a second consecutive home loss Friday night when the Pistons also go for win No. 1 as they open a six-game western swing.
With Steve Nash and Grant Hill gone and nine new players on this year's roster, the Suns are obviously still getting used to each other's tendencies and learning how they fit in coach Alvin Gentry's system. Their new starting forwards had very different debuts Wednesday, with Luis Scola going for 15 points and 11 rebounds while Michael Beasley had eight points on 2-of-9 shooting with four boards in an 87-85 loss to Golden State.
Phoenix's two returning starters - Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley - combined for 21 points and 15 rebounds. Gortat matched a career high with five blocks.
"We looked like a team that had nine new players tonight," said Gentry, whose club opens a three-game trip Sunday versus Orlando. "I really feel that we're going to become a good team. I really feel that we're going to have to play together and we're going to have to learn each other and know each other and as a coach, I have to learn the guys."
That's not the case with point guard Goran Dragic, who had team highs of 17 points and eight assists Wednesday to begin his second stint with the Suns. Dragic, who spent last season with Houston after being acquired from Phoenix during the 2010-11 campaign, shot 4 for 12 and had three of the team's 18 turnovers.
"We're on the right path. We just have to practice hard and try to limit those mistakes and try to be better next game," he said.
The Pistons are taking the same approach after blowing an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in Wednesday's 105-96 loss to Houston.
Detroit, which opened 4-20 last season would miss the playoffs for a third straight year, is going with a roster which includes six players in their first or second seasons.
"It's something I talked about before - a young team, you have to play consistent basketball and if you don't, then this can happen," veteran forward Tayshaun Prince told the Pistons' official website. "We've got a lot of work to do. We wish we could have gotten this game before we went on this road trip. It's just going to make it tougher for us."
Going on the road has been a challenge for the Pistons, who were 7-26 outside Auburn Hills last season. Their .226 winning percentage away from home since the start of 2009-10 is fifth-worst in the NBA.
They have lost four straight at Phoenix, including a 109-101 defeat March 16 in the teams' only matchup last season.
While Detroit has plenty of room for improvement on the defensive end following Wednesday's fourth-quarter meltdown, the club needs more efficient performances from starting guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight. Stuckey had nine points on 1-of-10 shooting while Knight scored 15 but shot 5 of 15.
Stuckey and Knight combined for 40 points and 14 assists in last season's matchup with the Suns, but Detroit lost for the sixth time in seven meetings.
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