AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns went after Detroit as if the playoffs had already begun.
Stephon Marbury scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Suns past the Pistons 94-91 Friday night.
"That's our biggest win of the season, without a doubt,'' Phoenix coach Frank Johnson said. "Right now, every game is a pressure game for us, and our young guys can't help but learn from this. Even in the end if we don't succeed, they will get valuable lessons from this stretch drive.''
The Suns, who have won four straight at the Palace, moved one
game ahead of idle Houston for the final Western Conference playoff
"All of this is getting us ready for whatever happens at the end,'' Bo Outlaw said. "We aren't going to be able to take a night off for the rest of the year. We are going to have to fight like this every game.''
Shawn Marion added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, while
Bo Outlaw had a season-high 17 points off the bench.
"We came here and got what we needed,'' said Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire. "That's all that matters.''
"The bottom line is, it is hard to get yourselves into
situations where you constantly have to make heroic plays at the
end of games,'' Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "We have to
tighten things up, because we aren't going to survive playing this
Ben Wallace had 16 rebounds -- just the second time in nine games that he failed to get 20 rebounds.
"He's an amazing player, and we had everyone trying to stop
him,'' Marbury said. "Every play that we were able to keep him
from making was huge for us.''
Phoenix led by five with nine minutes to play, but Billups hit
two 3-pointers in a 9-2 run that put Detroit ahead 82-80. The teams
traded the lead until Marbury's 3-pointer put the Suns up 91-87
with 1:23 left.
The Pistons were called for a shot-clock violation, but Penny
Hardaway missed a chance to clinch the game at the other end.
Hamilton's short jumper pulled the Pistons within two, but Cliff
Robinson fouled Jake Voskuhl with 10.7 seconds left. He made one of
two free throws, giving Detroit a final chance.
Billups, though, took an off-balance shot with 6 seconds left.
He missed badly, and Marion made two free throws to clinch the
"We knew they had a foul to give, and I felt that they were
going to take the foul,'' said Billups, who tried to jump into
Marbury as he released the shot. "I tried to get the foul, but I
guess not. Got the shot up anyway, and that shot really had no
chance. It would have had a chance if I didn't get fouled.''
Marbury knew exactly what Billups planned.
"He and I have been playing against each other since we were 13
years old, and I knew he was trying to get the foul and get three
shots,'' Marbury said. "I had been going to foul him, but once I
saw he was going for the shot, I backed off. I was afraid they
would call it anyway, but he jumped into me.''
Phoenix outshot Detroit 66.7 percent to 65 percent, but
trailed 33-31 after a wild first quarter. The Pistons missed their
highest-scoring first quarter of the season by one point. ...
Pistons G Chucky Atkins, already sidelined with a bruised knee,
missed the game to attend a family funeral. ... Scott Williams
picked up a technical for arguing a third-quarter call from the
bench. ... Detroit last beat the Suns at home on Dec. 3, 1997. ...
Marbury's late 3-pointer was Phoenix's only one of the game.