The Suns (22-48) took their largest lead, 65-53, at the 6:19 mark of the third quarter, after back-to-back baskets by T.J. Warren (15 points). They rested guards Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe, along with Brandon Knight, Leandro Barbosa and Tyson Chandler.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 23 points and the Detroit Pistons overcame a sluggish performance for the much of the game, finally pulling away from the short-handed Phoenix Suns for a 112-95 victory Sunday.
Phoenix prevailed over the Pistons 107-100 back on November 9 on the backs of Bledsoe's 14 4th-quarter points, Jared Dudley's 19 points off the bench, and a strong starting performance by Alex Len in place of Tyson Chandler (16 points, 14 rebounds).
As they've struggled through another losing season, the Suns looked to be giving the Pistons an easy win.
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For the first time since his team's offensive depression began five days ago in Cleveland, to the tune of a 34-point blowout against the defending National Basketball Association champions, Van Gundy was able to diagnose what went wrong immediately after.
Until their third-quarter awakening, the Pistons had given themselves a chance with a 16-0 first-quarter run that was more about their defense holding Phoenix scoreless over 14 straight possessions than hot shooting. Jon Leuer got going.
"Everybody's got their philosophy on what to do, and everybody's got reasons for what they do so I don't worry about why other people are doing what they do", Van Gundy said. It's just something you've got to deal with throughout the season. Get frustrated, think you got fouled. Detroit (34-36) finished strong in that period and then built a double-digit lead of its own in the fourth.
Detroit Pistons center Aron Baynes played only 18 minutes in Sunday's win over the Phoenix Suns, but he finished the game with 13 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. I thought (Kentavious Caldwell-) Pope hit a couple shots and got us going a little bit.
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(On offense): "We tried to force a lot of things. Toward the end, we started taking open shots and just started moving the ball".
From there, the Pistons made 5 of 6 free throws and added to the lead, with another alley-opp from Caldwell-Pope to Drummond and a lay-in by Jackson, boosting the lead to 101-82 at the 3:32 mark - helping the fans breathe easily from what would have been a monumental loss. Warren, at 13.8, is the only player in the lineup to avergae double figures in points per game. They weren't making their first shots, but they were pounding us on the boards. His numbers weren't great earlier in the year, but we still played really well with him on the floor.
We should find out shortly.
Stan Van Gundy wants his Detroit Pistons to play with energy in the middle of a playoff race.
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