As you may have already heard, the Pistons ran the Phoenix Suns off the court on Wednesday night at the Palace. In a league where the 'scheduling gods' create mismatches, pitting road weary teams coming off back-to-back games against a well-rested home court advantage, it's not uncommon to see the road team lay the occasional egg. But a 40-point egg? The Pistons beat the Phoenix Suns 117-70 on Wednesday, and while it's only one game and neither team is 'that' good or 'that' bad, the Pistons' formula behind the blowout is worth a closer look.
Defense, Defense, Defense
By the end of the game on Wednesday, every single Pistons defender knew exactly what flavor of Dentyne gum the Phoenix roster was chewing. For those not familiar with Hoosiers references— brush up because there's one more coming —it means the Pistons played their best team defense of the season.
The Pistons pushed the Suns into 19 team turnovers, the Detroit defense grabbed nine steals, and more importantly they held the Phoenix Suns to a dreadful 34.1% shooting from the field. They kept the Suns out of the lane, and pushed the Suns out to the three-point arch. Causing the Suns to jack-up 21 three-pointers on the night, making only six of them. When the Suns did get the ball in the paint, the Pistons defense met the pass with a swarm of help defense. Forcing the Phoenix big men to put the ball back outside for another high-volume, low-percentage shot.
Making the extra pass(es)
To score you've got to shoot the ball. But how does a team shoot five less field goals than their opponent and manage to hand out a 40-point loss? Easy, with a great shot selection.
The Pistons shot over 50% from the field, including 75% from three point land, by shooting open jumpers. Simple enough. The Pistons had 28 assists on 40 made shots, and every player except Andre Drummond and Kim English recorded an assist in the game. There was patience on offense, the Pistons rotated the ball, found each other in rhythm and found the best possible shot on nearly every possession. It was almost as if coach Gene Hackman had instilled the mandatory five passes before the shot rule— you were warned there'd be another Hoosiers reference. It was fundamental basketball, unselfish and the kind of offense that even the defensive-first Lawrence Frank was smiling about.
Playing back-up point guard for the second straight game, Rodney Stuckey had a strong game with 18 points and four assists, but the real story from the scoring column was the continued improvement of Brandon Knight and resurrection of Charlie V.
Since a blowout loss to Orlando, Brandon Knight has taken his game to a level that Pistons fans haven't seen from him this season. Including Wednesday night's game, Brandon Knight has averaged 20.5 points per game while averaging four assists in the past four games. It's encouraging for fans who see Brandon Knight as their franchise point guard. But more importantly, the success the Pistons have seen under Knight's four-game scoring tear should encourage the second-year point guard to see that this Pistons team goes as he does.
We've talked about it before, but Charlie Villanueva's last three games fall into the "you gotta be kidding me" category. At the risk of jinxing Charlie V. and therefore dissolving any trade market clout he may be building, we'll keep it short and sweet. In 21 minutes on the floor against Phoenix, Charlie V. tied Brandon Knight with a game-high 19 points scored, and was 4-for-5 from three-point land. More surprisingly, the normally trigger-happy Charlie V. threw two assists and pulled down six rebounds.
The Pistons take on arguably the best team in NBA on Friday night, as the team travels to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. Memphis is 11-2, and the secret to their league-best record is in their tough defense. The Grizzlies only allow their opponents an average of 91.1 points per game, good enough for second in the NBA. If the Pistons want to steal one on the road they'll have to carry-over their strong defense and high-mark shot selection from the Phoenix game. The Pistons play the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow at 8:00 pm.
Tags: Basketball, Brandon Knight, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Lawrence Frank, NBA, Rodney Stuckey
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