Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
For the second game in a row, Will Bynum and the rest of the Pistons' bench did most of the starter's work. On Friday night, behind Bynum's 25 points and 10 assists, they carried their team to a 10-point win over LeBron James and the reigning NBA champions, 109-99.
I wish I could re-use the picture MFMP chose for the GameThread, because it captures LeBron James so well. I also wish I could use Patrick Hayes' headline at PistonPowered -- Will Bynum the biggest star on a court that featured LeBron James and Chris Bosh -- because it's true, as well. MFWB, which stands for Most Feral Will Bynum. Will "The Thrill" Bynum. Bynumite. Yeah, what about him?
James dominated, as superstars tend to do most nights, scoring 35 points on 15-for-22 shooting with six rebounds, five assists and six steals. But it was Bynum's performance that induced the most oohs and aahs from a crowd that mostly showed up to see James, and more importantly it was Bynum's performance that propelled the Pistons to a 10-point victory over the defending champions, 109-99.
For the second time in three nights, the Pistons' bench as a whole made the starters look stupid. After spotting the Heat 10 points in the first two minutes of the game (pro tip: you don't want to do that to NBA champions), the Pistons trailed by 15 after the first horn. Then, the bench showed the starters how it is to be done.
The Pistons' bench hit eight (8!) threes in the second quarter on their way to scoring a season-high 41 (FORTY-ONE!) points. Charlie Villanueva hit three, Austin Daye hit two at the beginning of the quarter, Bynum had two to go along with seven assists, and Singler hit one. When you shoot 8 for 10 from long distance in a quarter, you have a pretty good chance to make up some ground and put some distance between you and the other team. It also helped that the Heat were 1 for 6 from the same spot, 7 for 19 overall, and turned the ball over four times. The Pistons used it all to completely turn the game on its head and into their favor, 58-52, at the break.
In the third quarter, after reading their notes in the locker room, the starters helped increase the lead to 15 with a 9-0 run to start. They managed to trade points with the Heat for much of the third and the bench maintained a 12-point lead until James started to get 2007 silly. James would nail a ridiculous shot just before the buzzer in the third and then boosted his team to a 6-0 start in the fourth, pulling the Heat to within four.
But the Pistons bench responded once again. Andre Drummond, Villanueva, Bynum and Tayshaun Prince (wait a minute, how did he get in there?) answered the Heat's run with a 9-0 one of their own to extend the lead back to 13. When the Heat chipped it to six, Bynum and Villanueva returned it to double digits. In the final two minutes of the game, Bynum put the team on his back and went into take-over mode, inserting the dagger into the defending champs with back-to-back-to-back jumpers, two of which came with the shot clock expiring.
Bynum scored 13 of his 25 points in the final frame and eight of the Pistons' final 12 points. He finished with 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting and had 10 assists, his first double double since March 7, 2010. He did this all in 27-plus minutes. He was electric for the second game in a row, stealing the limelight from the 44-minute LeBron James show.
The rookie Drummond deserves a heap of praise, too. It's no coincidence that the bench's dominance in the last couple games has happened with him on the floor. In 23 minutes Friday night (due to foul trouble), Drummond recorded his second-straight double double, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting. More than what the box score will tell you, which also tells you he had two steals, is that Drummond disrupted a lot of the Heat shots down low by getting a big paw in their face. For as fun as Bynum is to watch when he has these seemingly random mutations, the 19-year-old Drummond is equally as exciting for basketball fans.
In all, the Pistons had six players in double figures. Villanueva hit most of his shots, helping him to 18 points. He and Daye, who had 11 points and two blocks, skied over a couple Heat players and had important rebounds in the fourth quarter. The bench scored 64 of the Pistons' 109 points after scoring the most in the NBA since 1999 on Wednesday night. To wit: at what point does "the bench" become "the starting five", as craigdetroit has nicknamed them?
For the Pistons as a team, it was only their 10th win in what has been an overall disappointing first 32 games to the season. But an excitingly weird win over LeBron James, who had beaten the Pistons too many times in a row to count, is more than enough cause for celebration for at least one night.