Pistons can't contain DeAndre Ayton in 116-100 loss to Suns
Published in Basketball
DETROIT — Early in the third quarter, Chris Paul threaded a pass between Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren to find DeAndre Ayton for an easy dunk.
It was a common theme of defensive miscues as the Pistons suffered a 116-100 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
The defeat marked Detroit’s second loss to the Suns this season. They suffered a 108-102 loss in Phoenix on Nov. 25.
Detroit trailed by 17 and made a run in the third quarter, but it was answered by a scoring binge by the Suns, who were led by Ayton’s 31 points and 16 rebounds.
Miles Bridges added 24 points, while Cam Johnson had 20 points. Torrey Craig couldn’t miss from 3-point range, making all four of his shots from distance to finish with 14 points.
The Pistons were led by Saddiq Bey, who tallied 25 points, five rebounds and four assists off the bench. Bojan Bogdanovic added 23 points and three rebounds. Isaiah Stewart had a solid outing and found his shooting groove with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Jaden Ivey, who was arguably coming off the most efficient game of his rookie season, finished with 13 points and six assists. He totaled three turnovers, including back-to-back giveaways in the fourth quarter.
Saturday’s game was the second of a back-to-back (their first home back-to-back) after the Pistons beat the Charlotte Hornets the night before. Of their 13 wins, Detroit has only been able to put together back-to-back victories once this season — a couple of road wins against the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz in November.
Before the game, Pistons coach Dwane Casey attributed the inconsistency to the team’s inexperience.
Here are a few more observations from Saturday’s loss:
DeAndre Ayton dominates
There wasn’t much that Detroit could do to keep Ayton at bay on Saturday. The 6-foot-11 center only missed two of his 15 shots and only one of his six free throws. The majority of his baskets were assisted by Chris Paul, who made it his mission to make sure Ayton took advantage of the size disparity. Paul only scored two points, but dished out a game-high 14 assists.
Isaiah Stewart regains rhythm
Stewart, desperately needing to snap out of a 3-point drought, found some relief against the Suns. Before Saturday’s game, Stewart had missed his last 18 shots from 3-point range, so he was overdue for at least one triple to go through the net. He missed the mark on his first five shots from beyond the arc, but connected on three in the third quarter. At several points during the early stages of the game, Phoenix dared Stewart to shoot from distance, so he made a few drives to the basket that resulted in either a dunk or an and-one finish. Now that Stewart has seen the ball go through the hoop a few times, he should be able to maintain some consistency.
Foul trouble for Duren
One of the pitfalls of starting two centers in the same game is the risk of either getting into foul trouble with no relief on the bench. That happened Saturday night as Jalen Duren was called for three early fouls, which limited his production for the entire game. He finished with just one point, four rebounds and four personal fouls. Duren has become so consistent that when he does struggle, it’s somewhat difficult to believe. But he is still the youngest player in the league, and figuring out the game in real-time. There will be nights like these, but they’re usually followed by a big outing the next game.
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