Something lingered in the air in the Suns' locker room on New Years Eve. Not the obvious, sweat.
Two things, actually. A win, which they hadn't had of late, and smoke from some sort of smoke-bomb device, the by-product of a mini-New Year's celebration.
The Suns had enough to celebrate Friday night after a 92-75 win over the Detroit Pistons, who were missing their leading scorer and aren't very good anyway. Phoenix snapped a four-game losing streak and did with defense and a second unit that was so effective in the second quarter, point guard Steve Nash played the second-fewest minutes he has in a game all season, 19.
Jared Dudley and Vince Carter scored 19 points each, Carter adding eight rebounds. Goran Dragic hit a couple of big threes in the second quarter, when the Suns broke open the game with a 22-4 run and never looked back. But defense was the key.
The Pistons shot 40.8 percent from the field, looked lost in their half-court offense and couldn't do much with something Suns fans haven't heard good things about in a while: a trap on defense.
Pistons coach John Kuester: "When you see a team trap you have to make sure you have three outlets, then we have the advantage. You have to make a simple adjustment and guys have to make plays. As soon as they trap we have to get rid of the ball quicker."
Yup, that was the Suns he was talking about. And speaking of talking, Suns center Marcin Gortat is starting to develop a reputation for some head-scratching comments. Wednesday night. Gortat ripped into his teammates for a lack of effort on defense when Phoenix lost to the Sixers. Friday, he called the Suns a "totally different team" and said that "in 48 hours, we became probably top-five, the best defensive team in the league. Obviously for just one game, but it's impressive."
The Pistons cut the lead to 10 after three quarters, but the Suns built their lead to 23 in the fourth quarter at one point.
Then it was back to the locker room to party like it's 2011.
"The owners' kids were there and they started the fire, a little bit," Dragic said. Like those kids are going to get in trouble.