Pistons 8-game win streak over Suns eclipsed by frigid shooting in the desert


Three quick observations from Friday night’s 109-92 loss to the Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena

STREAK SNAPPER – Something had to give. The Pistons went into Friday’s game at Phoenix with an eight-game win streak over the Suns – and eight straight road losses against teams with winning records. It was the Pistons domination of the Suns that came to an end – in large measure because of their frigid shooting in the desert valley. The Pistons shot just 37 percent overall, 19 percent from the 3-point arc and 61 percent from the foul line. The Suns used a seven-point possession – two 3-point baskets around a Chris Paul free throw that came when Josh Jackson was ruled to have committed a flagrant-1 foul while Paul was drilling a triple – to fuel a 12-0 run in the second quarter to blow open what had been a five-point game. The Pistons shot just 34 percent and were 3 of 21 from the 3-point arc in the first half to dig their hole, then missed their first four of the second half as Phoenix built its lead to 20 points. Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 21 points.

BIG ABSENCE – With Wayne Ellington out, rookie Saddiq Bey was the choice to start in his place. It made sense considering the matchup against Phoenix’s All-Star guard, Devin Booker. When Jerami Grant picked up his fifth foul in the overtime win over Phoenix last month, Dwane Casey chose Bey to guard Booker for his size and ability to stay in front of his man. Bey’s size gave Casey the ability to have Grant guard Booker and use Bey (14 points, four boards, two assists) against either Grant or Mikal Bridges. Booker scored just four points in the first half but finished with 23. Ellington missed the game with a calf strain. Casey said before the game that Ellington was unlikely to play but that his calf was “much better today” than it was on Thursday. The Pistons also played without Derrick Rose for a second consecutive game. Rose missed Tuesday’s game at Utah when he came down with an upset stomach shortly before tipoff. Casey said, “We’ll rest Derrick tonight, first night of a back to back.” The Pistons wrap up their Western Conference road trip – a four-game trip, as it turned out, after Monday’s scheduled game at Denver was postponed due to contract tracing issues when one Pistons player’s COVID-19 test was inconclusive – on Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

LEE GETS A SHOT – Dwane Casey again went with Rodney McGruder as the backup point guard first even though this time, unlike Tuesday’s game at Utah, rookie Saben Lee was active. McGruder has played point guard sparingly in his five-year NBA career, but Casey called him one of the smartest Pistons players and liked what he saw from him to spark the comeback from 28 points down at Utah to pull within four. But with the Pistons falling 20 points behind in the third quarter, when it was time for Delon Wright to take a seat Casey gave Lee a shot. McGruder finished with four points in 15 minutes. Lee took a shot to the face from Suns center Damian Jones late in the third quarter and had to come out of the game, but returned late in the fourth quarter to finish the game. Wright might have struggled like everyone else to put the ball in the basket, shooting 2 of 7 overall and missing both of his 3-point tries, but he had a most active game. Wright finished with five points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.