Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 2/12

Game 1: Tuesday, February 12th
Game 2: Thursday, March 21st

Pistons 95

(40-27, 19-16 away)

Suns 82

(30-38, 19-16 home)

    7:00 PM ET, March 21, 2002

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    DET 23 28 22 2295
    PHX 23 19 11 2982

    Top Performers

    Detroit: C. Robinson 28 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Phoenix: S. Marbury 16 Pts, 2 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl

    Pistons stretch Central lead to 3½ games

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Clifford Robinson found the baskets in Phoenix as welcoming as the fans.

    Clifford Robinson

    Robinson scored 28 points Thursday night in his return to Phoenix, leading the Detroit Pistons to their fourth straight victory, 95-82 over the Suns.

    "If he hadn't gotten the fouls I think he could have gone for 40," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "He had that kind of rhythm going."

    Robinson finished 12-for-19 from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, to go with four rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

    On a couple of occasions, Robinson motioned to the Suns bench for them to play him closer on defense.

    "They had to. When you get it going they've got to come out and play it," Robinson said. "I'm going to hit those."

    Jerry Stackhouse added 23 points and seven assists for the Pistons, who moved 3 games ahead of Milwaukee for the Central Division lead. Detroit also moved within 2 games of New Jersey for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

    Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway each scored 16 points to lead the Suns, who have lost a season-high six straight games.

    Robinson spent four seasons with Phoenix before he was traded to the Pistons in the offseason.

    But unlike new Nets guard Jason Kidd, who has been outspoken about his trade to New Jersey and was booed every time he touched the ball in his first game in Phoenix, Robinson received a warm ovation from the fans when he was introduced.

    "I thought it showed the respect for the time he put in here and they respect him as a great player," Stackhouse said. "It was great the fans responded to him."

    Robinson promptly made himself at home, scoring the game's first six points as the Pistons took an 8-0 lead less than three minutes in.

    The Suns rallied to take a 30-28 lead on Hardaway's two free throws with 9:26 left in the first half. But Robinson scored eight points, and Jon Barry added a pair of 3-pointers as Detroit outscored Phoenix 23-12 the rest of the quarter to take a 51-42 lead.

    Robinson, who made 11 of his first 15 field-goal attempts, also scored four of the Pistons' first six points in the second half to start a 10-0 run that gave Detroit a 61-42 lead.

    "We're not playing four quarters yet as far as playing defense," Hardaway said. "If we can put four quarters together, we can at least give ourselves a chance to win."

    The Suns trailed by as many as 24 in the fourth quarter before rallying within 10 on Milt Palacio's 3-pointer with 6:13 remaining, but Phoenix could pull no closer.

    "You just want to come off the bench, play your role and help the team win," Palacio said. "But in a losing effort, it's tough. But we've got to bounce back."

    Game notes

    The Suns were without forward Shawn Marion, their second-leading scorer, who missed the game because of a lower back strain. ... Phoenix coach Frank Johnson was ejected with 3.4 seconds remaining. ... The Pistons are 14-5 since losing 99-71 to Phoenix on Feb. 12, both teams' first game after the All-Star break. The Suns are 5-14 and have switched coaches over the same span. ... Phoenix's losing streak is their longest since 1996-97. ... The Suns have trailed by at least 10 points in each of their last 12 games, losing nine. ... Derek Smith of Craig, Colo., a senior at nearby Arizona State, made a halfcourt shot at halftime to win a new truck.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 95 82
    FGM-FGA 39-73 (.534) 32-77 (.416)
    3PM-3PA 5-13 (.385) 2-10 (.200)
    FTM-FTA 12-22 (.545) 16-18 (.889)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-40 8-35
    Assists 26 21
    Turnovers 16 12
    Steals 7 9
    Blocks 10 4
    Fast Break Points 4 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (1/0) 22 (3/0)

    Top Performers

    Clifford Robinson Robinson
    Points: 28
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Stephon Marbury Marbury
    Points: 16
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0