Pistons beat Suns to end three-game skid
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Saddled with a three-game losing streak and down double digits to a shorthanded opponent, the Detroit Pistons displayed signs of high anxiety and frustration.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aron Baynes came to the rescue.
Caldwell-Pope scored 11 of his 23 points in the third quarter and the Pistons pulled away to a 112-95 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at The Palace.
Baynes powered for 13 points and a career-high 17 rebounds off the bench for Detroit (34-36). The previous high for the fifth-year center was 12 rebounds.
Coach Stan Van Gundy cited Caldwell-Pope and Baynes, along with backup point guard Ish Smith, as being relatively immune to pressure.
“They rely on their energy. They’re going to bring that every night,” Van Gundy said. “They don’t really worry about a lot else. Some of our other guys get tight at times.”
Van Gundy’s club shot 38.1 percent from the field during the skid and wasn’t doing any better until the third-quarter rally put the Pistons on top. They outscored the Suns 35-20 in the fourth quarter.
“In the first half and a good part of the third quarter, I thought we were really tight offensively,” Van Gundy said. “Guys wouldn’t shoot open shots. We were trying to drive the ball into traffic and draw fouls when we had people open. I just didn’t think we played our game. And then Pope hit a couple shots, got us going and then everybody loosened up a little bit.”
Caldwell-Pope reached the 20-point mark for the first time in eight games.
“There are lot things to worry about but shooting the ball is not one of them,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I‘m going to shoot the ball. That’s what I‘m supposed to do. Just shoot, shoot, shoot and who knows? Shoot yourself out of the slump.”
Baynes’ rebounding total was even more impressive because he only played 18 minutes.
“He brings us a lot of energy and toughness,” Pistons forward Marcus Morris said. “He stays on the offensive glass.”
Starting center Andre Drummond contributed a double-double -- his 46th -- with 18 points and 18 rebounds for Detroit. Morris tossed in 16 points and Reggie Jackson added 14.
Tyler Ulis had 17 points and 11 assists to lead the Suns. Marquese Chriss contributed 16 points, TJ Warren added 15 and Jarell Eddie -- signed to a 10-day contract earlier in the day -- chipped in 13.
Phoenix (22-48), which began a six-game road trip, had just eight available players.
“Our guys, they played hard, they did their best,” Suns coach Earl Watson said. “For three quarters, you could tell we hung in there. But in the second half, you could see the stamina start to (wane) as far as fast-break push and execution.”
The Suns’ backcourt was severely depleted. Shooting guard Devin Booker sat out with a bone bruise to his right ankle. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight have been shut down for the season while Ronnie Price and Leandro Barbosa were sidelined by illness.
“I think we got a little exhausted during the game but at the same time, it’s no excuse,” Ulis said. “You’ve got to try and finish out that game no matter what the circumstances are.”
Detroit allows the fewest second-chance points in the league but Phoenix had no difficulty racking them up in the third quarter. The Suns scored 10 points that way in the first six minutes of the second half to open a 65-53 lead.
The Pistons closed the quarter with a 21-8 outburst to gain a 77-75 lead.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Jon Leuer and Jackson gave the Pistons an 88-77 lead. Phoenix didn’t have an answer from that point.
NOTES: Familiarity was part of the reason the Suns signed SF Jarell Eddie to a 10-day contract on Sunday. Eddie, whose only previous NBA experience was 26 games with Washington last season, played for the D-League’s Austin Spurs during the 2014-15 season when Suns coach Earl Watson was an assistant there. “He’s a phenomenal shooter,” Watson said. “That was his rookie year but he’s gotten a lot better.” ... Suns G Devin Booker missed just three games this season before being sidelined by a right ankle bone bruise. “I think he’ll heal pretty quickly,” Watson said. ... Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has no issue with organizations that sit out players late in the season. “There’s people playing young guys, there’s people who want to lose, there’s people who are trying to make the playoffs, there’s teams near the top that want to rest guys to be ready for the playoffs,” he said. “None of it should make any difference to us.” ... Pistons PG Reggie Jackson played in his 400th career game.