The Phoenix Suns hosted their second consecutive less-than-spectacular Eastern Conference opponent Friday at US Airways Center and the competition was, well, less than spectacular.
The Detroit Pistons (25-43) put on a horror show from the free-throw line Friday, helping a Suns team which looked slow and sloppy for much of the game to notch a 98-92 win and pull within 0.5 game of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference playoff race.
Phoenix’s backcourt gave them the edge Friday, with guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe combining for 43 of the team’s 98 points. Gerald Green added 12 to the total.
The Suns were heavily outrebounded and out-assisted by the Pistons, who heaved up 90 shots in the losing effort, but the free-throw line seemed to make all the difference.
Here’s a look back at the win by the numbers:
Suns’ rookie center Alex Len set a career high in blocked shots in a scoreless performance Friday, deflecting three in 13 minutes played. The 20-year-old also pulled down three rebounds.
Suns forward Markieff Morris was assessed his 12th technical of the season Friday against the Pistons. If he gets T’d up four more times this season, he’ll face a one-game suspension.
Pistons forward Josh Smith had eight free-throw attempts Friday at US Airways Center. He failed to make a single one of them, as the real sore spot in his team’s lousy effort from the line against the Suns.
Markieff Morris has notched double-digit scoring efforts in nine straight contests for the Suns and 18 of his last 19 games. He has managed to tally at least 10 points in 30 of his last 32 games.
Suns forward P.J. Tucker recorded the second-best plus-minus clip of the game Friday, with a +11. Tucker hit 3-of-6 three-point attempts, blocked a shot and accrued 13 points in the effort.
In his best effort since returning from a 33-game leave with a knee injury, Bledsoe led the Suns past the Pistons Friday with 23 points and five assists, recording a game-best +13 while on the floor. And he stepped up when it mattered, getting 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, including five in the final 1:05 of play. Bledsoe shot 8-of-16 from the floor Friday, hitting 1-of-5 three-point attempts and 6-of-9 free throws.
If the Pistons shot their free-throws on pace with the Suns’ rate (68.6 percent) on Friday, they would have won the game, 100-98. Instead, they managed to hit just 10 of 26, good for just 38.5 percent.