Not only did the Pistons win both games, they did so in a remarkably dominant fashion: 117-91 in Milwaukee over the Bucks, and 118-95 at home against the Nets. Toss in the 109-74 laugher over the Cavs on Wednesday and the Pistons have the makings of a nice little winning streak, winning by an average of 28 points. That's not a typo: twenty-eight points. Color me impressed.
I can't get into the nuts and bolts of the last two games because, well, I haven't seen them yet -- I was out of town and still need to spend some alone time with my DVR. But after reading the recaps and looking at the box scores ...
Holy Jason Maxiell!
On Saturday, he scored 13 and nine with two blocks, and on Sunday he went 18 and 11 with three blocks, all the while shooting nearly 65% for the weekend and finding time to pose for one of the most iconic images of his career to date (props to Mike Payne for spotting this one):
Random Maxiell interlude:
- Just because he's producing on the court doesn't mean he can escape the wrath of Rasheed Wallace: stop reading and watch now. [Need4Sheed]
- NBA fans outside Detroit are starting to notice Maxiell. [MVN]
Rip vs Flip?
One of the good things about the Pistons winning comfortably lately has been the starters getting a chance to enjoy a few extra minutes on the bench -- no one guy has played more than 34 minutes over the last three games. Trouble is, when you're a guy like Rip Hamilton who's been struggling with consistency, sometimes minutes on the bench isn't an immediate priority. From A. Sherrod Blakely's blog:
For those who didn't watch tonight's game, there was a moment in the second quarter where Rip Hamilton was very upset at Flip Saunders for taking him out of the game.
It had the potential to be a real ugly, ugly scene.
But Hamilton had his moment of venting, and took a seat on the bench.
As Chris McCosky describes it, Rip was taken out after turning the ball over twice in a row. He told Flip he wanted to keep playing to regain his rhythm, Flip told Rip to "just make the simple play." For what it's worth, though, Rip has started to emerge from his offensive funk, shooting better than 57% from the field in the last three wins. But that's in part because of better ball movement by the team as a whole, and if Saunders sees that start to wane, good for him in addressing it. Also, good for Saunders for spreading the minutes around.
Based on Joe Dumars' comments this summer about preserving the starters and developing a bench, there's absolutely zero chance of Rip winning this fight should it linger -- not that I think it will. Blakely finished his post with this:
I talked with Rip after tonight's game, and he made it pretty clear to me that, yes, he wants to play more minutes. But he understands that his minutes aren't going to be plentiful now that the team's focus is on continuing to develop the bench.
For what it's worth, Rip is averaging almost three fewer minutes per game this year (34.1) than last (36.8), and the difference may grow larger after Rodney Stuckey returns. Which begs the question ...
When Stuckey returns, who's inactive?
DBB reader LawyerBoy brought up a good question in the weekend thread:
I was discussing this with my friend yesterday during the Bucks game … our 3 inactives have been: Dupe, Samb and Stuckey as of late. Who takes Stuckey’s place on the inactive list after he heals up? Neither of us could come up with a good answer, which I suppose is a good problem to have. Please feel free to enlighten me with your opinions; I’m very curious.
I don't know the definitive answer, but I'll try to find out at the next home game. In the meantime, my guess is Ronald Dupree, Cheikh Samb and Lindsey Hunter. Most fans view Stuckey as a combo guard; the Pistons consider him a point guard. So if he's throw into the mix, is there really a need for three backups behind Billups? Maybe against teams with a quick backcourt, Hunter will get the nod and Arron Afflalo will be donning street clothes, but I don't see the point on most nights.
I guess Flip Murray could get the dishonor (especially since he's been relegated to fourth-quarter play lately), but I'm not sure that it'd be worth the risk. I've never heard anything suggesting that Murray is a malcontent, but if I were in his shoes, I'd be pretty ticked about being dropped out of the rotation in a contract year, especially considering he's playing better than he did last year. I suppose Murray could still be traded, but I'm not sure what he'd draw in return is worth the loss of depth.
Also, as pointed out in the comments, players assigned by NBA teams to the D-League still count toward the 15-man roster, which means Samb will remain one of the three inactives even if/when he gets assigned to the D-League -- which brings me to this ...
On Samb's future (and a possible nickname switch?)
Chris Silva had a quick note in the Free Press suggesting Cheikh Samb might be headed to the D-League soon. Not a huge surprise -- it's actually a bit remarkable that he's stayed up here this long -- but the kid just needs to play. Practicing against NBA vets and working with NBA coaches has it's merits, but nothing beats good ol' playing time.
Also, this dawned on me tonight: when Arron Afflalo, someone on DBB (forgive me for not remembering who) suggested his nickname be "Spellcheck." Personally, I like it, even if I forget to use it. But considering there's still some mainstream confusing over Cheikh vs. Cheick, wouldn't "Spellcheikh" be appropriate?
And "Spellcheick," and "Spellchek," and "Spellcheque"? The joke, of course, lies in the fact that everyone spells it a different way. Or maybe my English major nerd-ness is shining through and it's not that funny. Just thought I'd throw that out there.