EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Phoenix Suns roll through Pistons for convincing road win

Jan 16, 2022, 2:49 PM | Updated: 2:54 pm
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives against Cory Joseph #18 of the Detroit Pistons in the se...
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives against Cory Joseph #18 of the Detroit Pistons in the second half at Little Caesars Arena on January 16, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns will rarely make the same mistakes multiple times over the course of a regular season.

That came to fruition in two different ways during Sunday afternoon’s 135-108 win in Detroit over the Pistons.

For one, It was Phoenix’s first matinee road game since arguably its worst loss of the season, a 123-108 defeat against the Boston Celtics that featured a 30-point first-half deficit.

Secondly, the last time the Suns played the Pistons, they allowed a 17-0 run in the mid-third quarter that forced them to close it out in crunch time instead of having the game wrapped up in the fourth quarter.

Sunday was taking the foot off the accelerator and enabling cruise control.

Phoenix shot 61.9% in the first half to lead by 10 before a 39-28 third quarter where the “not again” was likely running through their heads to help them get the advantage as high as 29 in the final frame.

Devin Booker was engaged from the jump on both ends, setting the tone defensively.

He scored 15 of his 30 points in the first quarter. It was one of those games in which his midrange touch was there no matter how high the degree of difficulty was.

The two sides combined to miss only 10 shots in a first quarter that both teams shot over 70% in. It was far more about high-level shotmaking rather than poor defense, a trend that favors the Suns instead of Detroit’s bottom-ranked offense.

That played out over the rest of the game.

Booker was 11-of-18 from the floor in 30 minutes. He could have easily gotten his point total in the 40s had it not been for Detroit deploying soft traps and forcing him into situations where he burned them with hockey assists.

It was a nice two-game stint for Booker on the road, beyond the back-to-back 30-point outings.

In Indiana on Friday, there was a large contingent of Kentucky fans there, to the point where Booker told Chris Paul it was a home game that evening. Booker got to see some family there, including an aunt he hadn’t had a chance to come across since before the pandemic. That was the case again on Sunday, with his hometown Grand Rapids a two-hour drive away from Little Ceasars Arena.

Booker had about 40-50 family members and friends in attendance.

“It’s great,” Booker said. “Especially what’s been going on in the world with the pandemic — I think everybody’s life changing, especially us being so isolated from people and family, that’s what it’s forced on us. Even the chance to see them at a distance and a wave. I haven’t got to have real family interaction with them but anything is better than nothing.”

With about four minutes left in the first quarter, Deandre Ayton sprained his right ankle when his right foot landed on Booker’s foot during a defensive possession. Ayton checked out of the game and then later in the first half was ruled out for the rest of the game.

JaVale McGee was productive as ever in Ayton’s place, contributing 20 points in 15 minutes. Cam Payne was the other Suns reserve to register 20 points and also had five assists, just like Landry Shamet, who added 10 points. Those two backup guards have had back-to-back good outings after slow starts to the season.

Twenty-nine of the Suns’ 30 assists came from seven players that all registered at least two.

“That’s who we are. That’s our DNA offensively. It’s a we-score mentality,” head coach Monty Williams said. “We probably should count hockey assists because a lot of our guys will pass the ball when they know the next guy is going to get the shot.”

It was a season-high 58.6% shooting performance from the field.

Payne was the only Suns player to clock in at over 30 minutes with 31, a nice bonus for a Phoenix team that’ll fly to San Antonio for a matchup with the Spurs on Monday night.

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