8:30 PM ET, March 3, 2005
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Steve Nash had 16 points and 14 assists -- including a crucial 3-pointer with 1:06 left -- in his return to the Phoenix lineup to help the Suns beat the Pistons 100-97.
Phoenix rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to snap the Pistons' eight-game winning streak.
"We won because we finally got tough," Nash said. "We gave up so many offensive rebounds, lost so many loose balls. Mentally, I don't think we were tough enough. But once we saw a little opportunity and hope, we got tough. It's too bad it took that long to start the switch, but it was good enough for a win."
With the Suns leading 95-94 after Chauncey Billups' layup with 1:20 to go, Nash, who missed three games with a sore hamstring, made the 3-pointer to boost the lead to 98-94, and then his two free throws increased the lead to 100-94 with 37.4 seconds left.
Rasheed Wallace sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 100-97 with 30.5 seconds left, and Shawn Marion missed from 3-point range to give Detroit a chance to tie it. After a timeout with 3.2 seconds to go, Billups' 25-footer was off the front of the rim at the buzzer.
The game featured the speed and shooting of the upstart Suns against the muscle of the defending NBA champions, and for much of the game, the Pistons had the advantage. They pounded Phoenix 56-37 in rebounding, 21-9 on the offensive boards.
But the Suns made up for it in 3-point shooting, making 11-of-20, compared with Detroit's 4-for-17.
"I just don't think we played very well," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I think we can run better than that against these guys, but they are the ultimate test, them an San Antonio."
Down 76-66 and with Nash resting on the bench, the Suns scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter, four by Stoudemire, to cut it to 76-74 on Joe Johnson's 18-footer with 9:20 left. Phoenix took the lead 85-84 when Nash sank two free throws 5:33 from the finish.
"It's not a statement, it's just saying that we're a high caliber team that is capable of taking the fourth quarter," Stoudemire said. "We've got guys that are capable of doing it, and tonight me and Steve did."
Marion, just 5-for-17 from the field, sank a 3-pointer to put the Suns ahead 89-84 with 4:35 to go.
The Suns had the early lead, but with Nash on the bench, the Pistons went on a 12-2 run to go up 32-26 on Ronald Dupree's offensive rebound with 8:21 to go in the half. Phoenix scored the next eight, including 3-pointers by Marion and Richardson, to tie it at 34.
Three-pointers by Richardson and Johnson in the final 39 seconds of the half put the Suns up 50-47 at the break.
Detroit coach Larry Brown made a thinly veiled reference at the officiating.
"We never got into the bonus the last three quarters," he said. "You consider we have 21 offensive rebounds and don't get to the bonus, it's tough."
But the Pistons also credited Phoenix's fourth-quarter play.
"We had them right where we wanted," Billups said. "We had our chance, and they hit the big down the stretch. We didn't."
Richardson was 4-of-5 on 3s in the first half and scored 17 points. Detroit, though, had a 14-6 advantage on the offensive boards, and a 32-20 lead overall in rebounding, in the first two quarters.
Phoenix was 7-for-12 on 3-pointers in the first half. Detroit was 0-for-7.
Nash had five assists in the game's first 5½ minutes. ... Detroit was on the fourth stop of a six-game western trip. ... Phoenix has a better record on the road (a league-best 23-7) than it does at home (21-7). ... The Suns are 2-4 without Nash, but were 2-1 during his most recent absence. ... Steve Hunter scored 10 points for Phoenix on 4-of-4 shooting.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||41-92 (.446)||40-87 (.460)|
|3PM-3PA||4-17 (.235)||11-20 (.550)|
|FTM-FTA||11-17 (.647)||9-14 (.643)|
|Fast Break Points||6||7|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||11 (1/0)|