Smith bank shot beats Suns


By NOAH TRISTER

AP Sports Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Josh Smith was annoyed with himself earlier in the week, when his jumper with the game on the line missed badly and Detroit went on to lose to the New York Knicks.

So when Smith had the ball in the final seconds again Saturday night, he went straight to the basket.

“I wanted to be aggressive,” Smith said. “When I caught it, I didn’t want to settle.”

Smith’s driving, left-handed bank shot with 1.2 seconds left gave the Pistons a 110-108 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Smith finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Brandon Jennings had 18 assists, the most in the NBA this season, to go with eight points and eight rebounds.

Smith was involved in a few big plays in the final half-minute — both good and bad. His 3-pointer as the shot clock expired put Detroit ahead 108-105 with 26.8 seconds left. Then he fouled Gerald Green while the Phoenix guard was shooting a 3-pointer. Green made all three free throws to tie it with 4.3 seconds remaining.

The ensuing inbounds pass went to Smith near the top of the key. He drove to the right and then switched hands, making a tough shot while being tightly defended by Channing Frye.

Green’s 3-pointer at the buzzer from in front of the Detroit bench missed badly.

“This is a great game for us, to be able to see how mentally strong we can be,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to be able to reflect on these games and apply it to the games that we have in front of us.”

Frye led Phoenix with 21 points.

The Suns tied the game with a 13-3 run to start the fourth quarter, but Detroit responded with a 7-0 run. It was 105-97 before Phoenix scored eight straight points, tying it on a 3-pointer by P.J. Tucker with 51.2 seconds left.

“We had one game this year where we came from 21 back, and we usually fight hard,” Tucker said.

The Pistons barely got a shot off on their next possession, but Smith was able to free himself on the left wing and connect from 3-point range.

It was his first of two big shots at the end.

“Those were two tough shots that Josh made,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We let him get to the basket at the end, but he was going in the wrong direction and still knocked that down. Before that, we play great defense, they lose the ball and they manage to bat it out to him and he hits the 3. That’s just a bad break for us.”

Jennings equaled team records held by Isiah Thomas with 11 assists in the first quarter and 16 in the first half.

But Jennings didn’t have any points, rebounds or assists in the fourth quarter. Backup Will Bynum picked up the slack a bit, scoring eight of his 16 points in the final period.

“Sometimes in those fourth quarters Brandon was alone out there as far as creating and that’s kind of tough on him,” Bynum said. “So when we’re out there we help him out a lot and that spreads the court out.”

Detroit has been a disappointment after signing Smith and trading for Jennings in the offseason, but those two looked sharp for most of the night Saturday. In the first quarter, the Pistons looked as smooth and cohesive as they have all season, repeatedly beating the transition-oriented Suns down the court for easy baskets.

Jennings tossed an alley-oop off the backboard to Andre Drummond for a 12-3 lead, and later in the quarter his alley-oop to Smith gave him 10 assists. Jennings then found Kyle Singler for a dunk that made it 35-19.

The Pistons finished the quarter with 16 assists on 17 field goals — and a 35-21 lead.

Even when Jennings shot an airball at the end of the second quarter Drummond was there to tip it in at the buzzer for a 64-51 lead. Detroit had 50 points in the paint in the first half. The Pistons finished with 68.

The last player with 16 assists in a half was Jason Kidd, who did it April 5, 2009, for Dallas, according to STATS. That was also against Phoenix.

The last player with at least 11 assists in a quarter was Steve Blake, who had 14 for Portland in 2009.

Phoenix was without guard Eric Bledsoe, who had surgery Friday on his right knee.

ROCKETS 114

WIZARDS 107

WASHINGTON — Houston built a 25-point lead, lost all of it and then some, then rallied from five down late in the fourth quarter to defeat Washington in a game twice delayed by leaks in the roof.

Long after the stoppages of 35 and 22 minutes because the leaks, James Hardin tied the game with a driving layup with 2:33 to play, then gave the Rockets the lead again — this time for good — with a three-point play with 1:54 remaining. He finished with 25 points for the Rockets, who made only four field goals in the final period yet closed with a 17-5 run.

John Wall led Washington’s comeback and finished with 23 points and 10 assists, Trevor Ariza had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Kevin Seraphin — another catalyst in Washington’s surge — had all of his season-high 18 points in the second half. The Wizards lost their fourth straight home game and fell to 2-14 against teams that are currently .500 or better.

KNICKS 102

76ERS 92

PHILADELPHIA — Amare Stoudemire scored 21 points and Carmelo Anthony added 18 to lead New York over Philadelphia.

J.R. Smith returned from a one-game benching for unsportsmanlike conduct and contributed 11 points for the Knicks (14-22), who have won four straight. Anthony added nine rebounds and seven assists. Stoudemire went 8 for 10 from the field.

Spencer Hawes and James Anderson each had 17 points to lead the Sixers (12-25). Thaddeus Young chipped in 15 points for Philadelphia, losers of four in a row.

RAPTORS 96

NETS 80

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points, Patrick Patterson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Toronto snapped Brooklyn’s five-game winning streak.

Terrence Ross scored 14 points, John Salmons had 13 and Kyle Lowry finished with 12 as Toronto won for the seventh time in nine games.

Paul Pierce scored 15 points and Alan Anderson had 13 for the Nets, whose season-long winning streak came to an end one night after a double-overtime victory over Miami.

Joe Johnson scored 11 for the Nets, who fell to 1-6 this season in the second game of a back-to-back.

BULLS 103

BOBCATS 97

CHICAGO — D.J. Augustin had 20 points and 12 assists and Joakim Noah added 19 points and 14 rebounds to help streaking Chicago beat Charlotte for its fifth straight victory and improve to 3-0 since trading All-Star Luol Deng to Cleveland on Monday.

Mike Dunleavy scored 17 points for the Bulls, who had seven players score in double figures and recovered after blowing a 15-point lead in the second half. Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Gerald Henderson scored 30 points and Kemba Walker had 29 for the Bobcats, who have dropped three straight.

THUNDER 101

BUCKS 85

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 33 points after missing his first eight shots and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and 17 rebounds to help Oklahoma City beat Milwaukee to snap a two-game skid.

Jeremy Lamb added 17 points for the Thunder, who had lost four of six. Oklahoma City scored just 14 points in the first quarter and 38 in the first half before heating up and hitting 63 after the break.

O.J. Mayo and Luke Ridnour scored 16 points apiece and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks (7-29), who have the league’s worst record.

 

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