Pistons Blast Suns 116-86

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) -- Detroit saves its best for the big ones, so the Pistons were more than ready for Shaquille O'Neal.
Rasheed Wallace scored 22 points in 26 minutes to lead six Detroit players in double figures, and the Pistons embarrassed O'Neal and the Phoenix Suns 116-86 Sunday.
Richard Hamilton had 18 points, Chauncey Billups 14 points and 11 assists, and Antonio McDyess 12 points and 13 rebounds. Jarvis Hayes added a season-high 18 as Detroit easily ended the Suns' 11-game winning streak against Eastern Conference foes with a nationally televised blowout.
"This was a big game for us," Billups said. "You know how we are, man, when we play against other elite teams, we lock in. We lock in big-time. I thought everybody played great today -- everybody."
Phoenix lost to a team from the East for only the third time in 25 tries this season.
"They get juiced up a little bit," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said of his team's efforts against the other top teams. "I thought we were extremely focused both offensively and defensively."
The Pistons, opening a four-game road trip, built an 18-point halftime lead, then blew open a 36-point advantage in the third quarter, the Suns' biggest deficit of the season.
"It's embarrassing, it's disappointing, it's everything," Suns point guard Steve Nash said. "It's tough, no matter who you play, to lose by 30 points."
Their most one-sided loss of the season left the Suns 1-2 since O'Neal started playing for Phoenix on Wednesday.
"Maybe we used all the adrenaline left these last two games," coach Mike D'Antoni said of the Suns' close loss to the Lakers on Wednesday, followed by a victory over Boston on Friday. "Emotionally, we've been on a high for the last three days and you wake up on Sunday at noon and we're not quite ready to play."
O'Neal, who turns 36 in two weeks, had seven points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes and was 1-for-8 from the foul line.
"We still have to be realistic about things," he said. "I've only been here about eight days. This is only my third game with the guys, so we still have a lot of figuring out to do. If everyone just sticks with their role, we should be fine."
Amare Stoudemire scored 31 for Phoenix. Leandro Barbosa added 18. Nash was the only other Suns player in double figures with 11 points and just six assists.
Detroit dominated from the start, using a 7-0 spurt to go up 25-14 on Hamilton's 14-footer with 1:20 left in the first quarter. Phoenix shot 29 percent in the first quarter.
Hayes' 10-footer put the Pistons ahead 39-22 with 8:49 left in the half.
The Suns climbed back into it briefly with an 11-2 run to get within 45-39 on Stoudemire's 17-footer with 3:55 left in the half. But with O'Neal back in the Phoenix lineup, Detroit scored the last 12 points of the half to go up 59-41 at the break.
It got much worse for the home team after that. Hamilton's 22-footer capped a 25-6 outburst that buried the Suns 90-54 amid boos from Phoenix's 103rd consecutive sellout home crowd with 56 seconds left in the third.
"The Pistons came out with a lot of energy, more energy than we did," O'Neal said. "And it seemed like they couldn't miss there. ... It was just one of those games. Everyone was flat, including myself."
Saunders said it's understandable that the Suns will struggle trying to adjust following the trade that brought O'Neal from Miami for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.
"They had an identity of how they played when they had Shawn," the Pistons coach said. "Their identity is going to adapt. I still they they're going to be a better playoff-type team because of the people they have."


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