Thon Maker was great, said Blake Griffin after the Pistons 118-98 win over Suns on March 21, 2019.
Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press
PHOENIX – The Detroit Pistons seemed to want to repeat Monday night's performance in Cleveland.
But after allowing the Phoenix Suns to shoot nearly 70 percent in the first quarter, the defense layout needed for a playoff spurt was unveiled Thursday at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Pistons have limited the Suns to 38 points in the second half of a 118-98 win to win the first game of a crucial four-game trip against opponents of the Western Conference.
Blake Griffin shoots Richaun Holmes of the Suns during the first half of Thursday. (Photo: Matt York, AP)
After enjoying a night's rest in Monday's loss to the Cavaliers, Blake Griffin struggled to spend the night at 4-to-17, although he had 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Griffin missed several shots around the rim and he said after that it was a case of rust after not playing Monday and no training on Tuesday.
"I had the impression that my pace was a little off the mark tonight," Griffin said. "It was almost too many days off because we did not play Monday and we did not play on Tuesday. Wednesday's training being very light, I did not really have the opportunity to go up and down.
"I'm looking forward to using this to our advantage."
The Pistons (37-34) are sixth in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, a game in front of the Brooklyn Nets, who hold the tiebreaker on the Pistons.
The Pistons are two games against the eighth place of the Miami Heat.
The competition becomes increasingly difficult with games against playoff teams in Portland, Golden State and Denver.
The defensive effort of the Pistons was the main reason for the victory over the lamentable Suns (17-56).
After the Suns star, Devin Booker, started the game hot, the Pistons bombarded Booker every time he initiated pick-and-roll. It was limited to 11 points in the last three quarters.
"Defensively, from now on, that's what we need to focus on and improve on," said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. "We locked and flipped the switch, we did it.
"I thought (Langston Galloway), Bruce (Brown) and Wayne (Ellington) had done a hell of a job on one of the best shooters in our league and that's why we need to be focused and focused."
Wayne Ellington scored 23 points on a 3-over 6-over-10 shot and Luke Kennard added 16 points.
After seven trebles in the loss to Cleveland, Ellington joined Terry Mills as the only Piston player in franchise history to score more than three shots in three consecutive games.
André Drummond scored 16 points, took 19 rebounds and added three flights.
The pistons were 17 for 42 over a range of 3 points (40.5%).
The Suns closed Kelly Oubre (left thumb), Tyler Johnson (right knee pain) and T.J. Warren (right ankle) for the season Thursday afternoon.
Pistons defensive issues regarding the loss of Cavs have been postponed to Thursday.
Under the guidance of Booker, who scored 15 points on six out of seven shots, the Suns shot 68% in the first quarter to take a 32-29 lead.
After the NBA stars break, Pistons coach Dwane Casey spoke of five sets of five games each for the latter part of the season. The Pistons went 5-0, 4-1 and are now 2-2 in this game of five games.
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Thon Maker discusses the defensive recovery of the second half of the Detroit Pistons' 118-98 win over the Phoenix Suns on March 21, 2019.
Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press