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Flip is happy with the bench

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There's been some concern among fans as to whether the starters are playing too many minutes, in particular on Tuesday following a double-overtime game on Monday, but Flip Saunders isn't concerned:

"The bench overall has done fairly well," [Saunders] said. "Portland used different lineups and forced us to use Tayshaun Prince more because of his length."

That partly explains why Carlos Delfino played only six minutes. Another reason for that was Delfino was feeling a little under the weather from the cold temperatures and all the travel.

"Chauncey Billups is going to play 35 minutes a night, that's just the way it is," Saunders said, explaining Carlos Arroyo's 12-minute effort.

Maurice Evans struggled, which is why he played only 12 minutes. He missed both his shots and picked up two quick fouls.

Rasheed Wallace played 40 minutes, and Ben Wallace, who played 56 minutes Monday, played 41, largely because Antonio McDyess was in early foul trouble and played only 12 minutes.

Before playing 97 minutes in the last two games, Ben Wallace was averaging fewer minutes this year than last year. As for the rest of the starters, they're all averaging fewer minutes this year. (On a sidenote, how cool is it that Hamilton, Billups and Prince have all upped their scoring averages in fewer minutes?) Take a look:

Pistons 2004-2005 stats

Pistons 2005-2006 stats through 23 games

I think what causes some confusion is the fact that Antonio McDyess has had his minutes reduced, but that's because Mo Evans and Carlos Arroyo have seen consistent time all year, Darko was seeing more time earlier in the year and Carlos Delfino has seen time lately. Considering our 7-man rotation last year, I'm pretty happy about the fact that at least nine players are seeing semi-regular time now, especially since Lindsey Hunter hasn't played a single minute yet.

EDIT: Here's a blatantly obvious angle that I didn't think to check before: Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton, who are leading the team in minutes, rank 37th and 38th in the league in minutes per game. Ben Wallace ranks 43rd, Chauncey 65th, and Rasheed 72nd. It's rare for a team to have all five starters ranked in the top 75, but clearly not one of them is being overworked.

Saunders pleased with bench [Detroit News]
Pistons season stats [ESPN]