The Pistons were shorthanded, but no matter, they still cruised to a win over the Bobcats [game thread, box score], a truly awful team that had just one quarter of fight in them before laying down for a 101-83 loss. Some quick thoughts in Need4Sheed-style bullet-point form:
- In his first game in post-Chauncey era, Rodney Stuckey looked like a work in progress, shooting 3-of-7 for nine points with only three of the team's 23 assists. I'm big on his future, but anyone who thinks Stuckey is ready to replace everything Billups brought to the table right now is kidding himself. Stuckey can drive, yeah, but he's not nearly the distributor that Billups is. He was okay on Monday, but I wasn't surprised to see he was "only" +7 on the night whereas every other starter was +14 or or more.
- Will Bynum, on the other hand, looked like a guy desperate to prove he deserves minutes, and not only because my expectations are so much lower for him. You know those comparisons to Lindsey Hunter? Throw them out the window, because when Bynum drives the lane, there's no need to close your eyes in fear. He finished with 12 points on 6-9 shooting with four assists in a shade under 23 minutes. I have no freakin' clue how the backcourt minutes will be distributed once AI joins the team (he's used to 40+ minutes a game, which almost certainly won't happen here), but I wouldn't mind seeing Bynum get 10 minutes now and again in the right matchup.
- Amir Johnson led the Pistons with a +21 plus/minus rating, scoring a dozen points with six boards in 23 minutes, but better yet, he set the tone by aggressively going after rebounds that he actually got the benefit of the doubt on a few whistles. (Of course, he still finished with four fouls, but when a guy is +21 in 23 minutes, it doesn't matter how many fouls he commits.)
- Jason Maxiell chipped in 10 points (but only two boards) in 23 minutes, going 4-4 from the line. In hindsight, Maxiell signing his extension was really the precursor for the AI deal, no? Just like Dumars was sure to lock up Hamilton the moment Billups left town, there's no way Dumars would have moved McDyess had he not already signed his replacement to a contract that's looking better and better every day.
- Kwame Brown had a rough go of it from a shooting standpoint (1-6), but c'mon, the guy had nine boards and a pair of blocks in 17 minutes. Job well done.
- With Chauncey Billups gone, will Rasheed Wallace have more freedom to drift outside? After all, Stuckey and AI, two slashers, will likely score most of their points in the paint. Just something to keep an eye on. In his first post-Chauncey game, Rasheed shot 3-5 from three-point land.
- Walter Sharpe's first two NBA points came on a reverse jam. If you missed it, watch it.
- Walter Herrmann was a little quieter on Monday than he was in the first two games, but he was still the subject of one of my FanHouse posts. Also, this old school pic of Herrmann is pure 100% awesomeness.
- As for the Bobcats, I have little to say except it was weird to see a clean-cut Adam Morrison running up and down the court. He finished with 10 points on 4-6 shooting.
- Last but not least, Bobcats point guards Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin combined for exactly one assist in 39 minutes. Larry Brown eats his point guards alive even when they do well, so you have to figure he has something special planned for each of them at Charlotte's next practice.
That's about it. This was a weird game to watch -- the team is stuck in an awkward limbo without Billups but before Iverson. It won't last for long: the word during the telecast was that Iverson was expected to join the Pistons in time for Wednesday's game in Toronto. Needless to say, the entire NBA will be watching to see how he fits in.