Pistons undone by Suns, 0-4 on road
Phoenix — Three games, three losses.
In their first three road games, the Pistons had been hampered by slow starts and they couldn’t mount a comeback.
Make it four.
This time, it wasn’t the start though — it was the finish.
The Pistons bolted to a first-quarter lead, squandered it in the middle two quarters and then regained it in the fourth quarter. They just couldn’t hold on, falling to the Suns, 107-100, on Wednesday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
“We gave the game away,” center Andre Drummond said. “In the fourth quarter, we came back and made some strong plays … we didn’t come back with energy to get us back in the game.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 27 points and Drummond added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons (4-4), who are allowed just under 110 points in the each of the road losses.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. His floater with 20.5 seconds left pushed the lead to seven and kept the Pistons at bay.
Bledsoe also triggered the decisive 13-1 run over a four-minute span that turned a six-point deficit into a 96-90 lead with 4:14 remaining. Bledsoe had eight points during the run, including six straight.
“It was frustrating. We couldn’t get stops in the fourth quarter and we just kept trading baskets and that wasn’t what we wanted to do,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We started slowing up on defense and giving them drives to the basket and easy looks at the rim and fouling. That turned the momentum.”
Besides the fourth-quarter run, the Suns also dominated the second period, 35-23, including a surge by Suns forward Jared Dudley, who scored 15 points in the quarter, including three 3-pointers.
The Pistons had led, 28-19, after the first period, but the lead evaporated in the first four minutes, after Dudley’s first 3-pointer, for a 33-32 lead at the 8:08 mark.
“The second quarter was the key point in the game. We had some absolutely horrendous defense in the second quarter,” Van Gundy said. “After that, I thought we fought pretty hard and then we got the lead in the fourth and couldn’t make any shots after that, though we had some good ones.
“We couldn’t stop their pick-and-roll from the six-minute mark to the 3-minute mark. Frustrating game, very frustrating.”
The Suns, in the second game of a back-to-back, built an 81-73 lead with 5.2 seconds left in the third quarter. Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the deficit to five. He started the fourth with another 3-pointer, on a 4-on-1 fast break, to make it a two-point game.
Jon Leuer (11 points) followed with a three-point play and a 3-pointer, and Marcus Morris (16 points) added a jumper for an 87-81 lead with 9:20 left. Bledsoe ended the Pistons’ 14-0 run with a layin.
The Suns cut it one after a free throw by Devin Booker (11 points) and two baskets by Bledsoe, but Caldwell-Pope pushed the lead to two after a free throw on a technical foul for defensive three seconds.
Bledsoe tied it on a fadeaway jumper and Alex Len gave the Suns the lead, 92-90, after a dunk with 5:01 remaining.
In the first quarter, the Pistons started hot, making six of their first nine field goals, taking a 15-14 lead. They followed with a 12-2 spurt, including an alley-oop and a 3-pointer, pushing the lead to 22-14. They finished the first quarter with a 28-19 lead, holding the Suns without a field goal in the last seven minutes.