Pistons keep churning in rout of Suns
DETROIT — When the Detroit Pistons upset the two-time defending champions on the road earlier this season, they had a big letdown the next game.
They faced a similar scenario on Wednesday after defeating the team with the best record, Boston, on the road two nights earlier. This time, they got off a good start and never let up.
Reggie Jackson had a season-high 23 points and five assists and the Detroit Pistons never trailed while thumping the Phoenix Suns 131-107 at Little Caesars Arena.
“Coming off a big win like Monday night, to come out and play like that was a good sign of maturity,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy reminded the team of what happened on the West Coast in late October. The Pistons shocked Golden State with a second-half rally, then got blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers two nights later.
“It’s a great word he uses. I’ll definitely take it as a sign of maturity,” said Jackson, whose club also recorded a road win over Oklahoma City prior to surprising the Celtics. “It was easy the last two games previous to this one to get fired up. We had to find a way to bring energy ourselves tonight and I think we did so. We locked in and stuck with the gameplan.”
Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley contributed 20 points apiece for the Pistons (14-6), who shot 57.3 percent and won for the fourth time in five games.
Andre Drummond supplied 13 points, seven rebounds and a career-high tying seven assists. Ish Smith led Detroit’s bench with 14 points and six assists.
“We’re really finding our chemistry,” Harris said. “That’s something we lacked last year. All year, we were trying to find chemistry as a team. This year, we’ve been able to really do a good job of locking into what works.”
The Pistons took a double-digit lead with three minutes remaining in the opening quarter and maintained it the rest of the way. The margin of victory was their largest of the season, as was the point total.
“We stayed on the gas pedal all night and were able to expand the lead at many times of the game and not let them make a run,” Harris said.
Devin Booker’s 22 points led the Suns, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Rookie Josh Jackson had a career-high 20 points and seven rebounds, Greg Monroe added 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Tyler Ulis chipped in 13 points.
Phoenix (8-15) was playing the second game of a back-to-back and the third leg of a six-game road trip. The Suns shot 46.4 percent but committed 22 turnovers.
“We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be against this team,” interim coach Jay Triano said. “They’re sitting here and they had a day to prepare and we didn’t. They were right at us, they drove it right past us, and made whatever play they wanted to make.”
Jackson’s production was the lone bright spot.
“I definitely feel like I’m progressing,” said Jackson, the fourth pick in the June draft. “It’s definitely a learning curve. Our team, we’ve got nothing but time.”
Detroit scored a season high in first-half points and led 69-41 at halftime. The Pistons shot 61.7 percent and went 8-for-14 on 3-point attempts, while their defense forced 15 turnovers.
Harris scored 14 points in the first quarter as the Pistons jumped to a 36-19 lead. That was Detroit’s highest-scoring first quarter this season.
The lead continued to grow in the second. Langston Galloway’s 3-pointer pushed the lead past 20. Anthony Tolliver’s long-range shot made it 50-23.
Smith’s driving layup nudged the advantage over the 30-point mark. A Bradley layup upped it to 60-28.
Bradley’s third-quarter steal and dunk pushed the lead to 99-63.
NOTES: Detroit PF Jon Leuer (left ankle sprain) was inactive. ... The Pistons have won six of their last seven home games against the Suns. ... Detroit C Andre Drummond has an NBA-high 14 games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds since the 2012-13 season. ... Phoenix SG Devin Booker’s eight 30-point performances during the first 22 games was the second-most in franchise history. Charlie Scott had nine such games during the first 22 games of the 1974-75 season. ... The Suns are 5-0 when SF T.J. Warren scores 25 or more points. Warren finished with seven points. ... The teams play at Phoenix on March 20.