Pistons vs Suns Game Preview - January 11, 2014
Regular Season Game #37
The Phoenix Suns are certainly feeling the loss of Eric Bledsoe, and that's not going to change for awhile.
Goran Dragic will try to help the Suns bounce back from their latest defeat without Bledsoe on Saturday night when they continue a five-game trip against the Detroit Pistons.
Phoenix (21-14) has been a big surprise after going 25-57 last season, its worst record since a 16-66 mark as an expansion team in 1968-69.
Bledsoe was a big part of that turnaround, averaging 18.0 points and 5.8 assists, but the team's second-leading scorer is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery Friday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Hours later, the Suns went out and fell 104-99 at Memphis, losing for the third time in five games without Bledsoe. They were victimized by poor shooting in the final quarter, going 9 for 27 from the field - 2 for 11 from 3-point range.
"You want to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "They made the plays that we didn't. We missed layups. We had open shots. We just didn't finish them."
Dragic is averaging 23.2 points on 50.0 percent shooting, including 11 of 22 from beyond the arc, over the past five games. The guard had 21 points and eight assists against the Grizzlies, but he's averaging 12.0 over his last three games versus Detroit (15-22).
Gerald Green has done a solid job filling in for Bledsoe, averaging 16.3 points in the past four games. He was one of five Suns in double digits with 12 points Friday.
Phoenix has dropped back-to-back visits to Detroit, including a 117-77 defeat in the most recent Nov. 28, 2012. The Suns had won seven of the previous eight matchups overall.
The Pistons overcame an early 16-point deficit and ended a season-high six-game skid with Friday's 114-104 victory at Philadelphia. Josh Smith had an outstanding all-round performance with 22 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and four steals.
"I was frustrated because of the fact we were on a six-game losing streak and it was disheartening to see us not come out with the kind of desperate energy we needed in order to get off the skid," Smith said.
Now, Smith and the Pistons will try to snap a five-game home losing streak, during which they're surrendering an average of 111.8 points.
Smith is scoring 19.4 points over that stretch, but Brandon Jennings has contributed only 9.0 while shooting 22.0 percent (9 for 41) from the floor - 2 for 18 from beyond the arc - in the past three home games.
Jennings, though, has totaled 35 assists during that span and came up big Friday. He scored 18 of his 19 points while hitting all four of his 3s in the second half. He's totaled 45 points while hitting 51.7 percent from the field - 7 for 12 from long range - over his last two matchups with Phoenix.