PHOENIX (AP) -- Clifford Robinson found the baskets in Phoenix as
welcoming as the fans.
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
Robinson finished 12-for-19 from the floor, including a pair of
3-pointers, to go with four rebounds, three assists and a blocked
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 3½ games ahead of Milwaukee for the Central
Division lead. Detroit also moved within 2½ 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
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
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."
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.