Domination. The now .500 Detroit Pistons outscored the Charlotte Bobcats 98-75. Even without Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton, this game was the best reflection of the offense that Joe Dumars had in mind when he signed Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon this summer.
On the offensive end, the three guards and Charlie Villanueva were unstoppable. Our four top scorers combined for 70% shooting (!) and 84 points on 49 attempts, no small feat against the number 4 defense in the league. Additionally, Detroit out-rebounded the 2nd best rebounding team in the league, 34-33. After 5 quick turnovers in the first quarter, Detroit ended the game with only 11 TO's and a critic-silencing 26 assists. For those that weren't certain of how much our frontcourt scoring plays into the assist totals, Villanueva received 10 of those 26 assists tonight.
The rookies, with Jerebko as the perennial exception. Austin Daye had 3 fouls and 4 turnovers, while Dujuan Summers had 3 fouls and 1 turnover. They were given free run in garbage time, but neither did anything to prevent Charlotte from chipping away at the 35-point lead Detroit built before benching their starters. Daye looked entirely out of place, with other players chiming in on court to tell him to give the ball back to the point, to change position or make a move. Summers seemed to take on the Wilcoxian philosophy of making dumb fouls and brainless turnovers that put a layer of dust on his "NBA-ready" image. To put it in context, Summers and Daye made Amir Johnson look like Shane Battier tonight.
Charlie Villanueva. 30 points in 31 minutes on just 17 attempts. It is officially safe to say that there is no rust on the CV Machine.
Just how important is this? Charlie Villanueva is the key variable in the Pistons success this season. Our guards will consistently combine for between 50-65 points per game. If CV isn't scoring, we don't have any other frontcourt firepower to win games. When he is on, the game is clearly ours to lose. Tonight, Gordon, Bynum and Stuckey combined for 54 points, but this game was won by Charlie Villanueva's 30 points in just 31 minutes.
Props to CV on defense as well. He played with hustle, with purpose on the defensive end, picking up 2 timely steals that led to easy baskets. Add the big block and great man-to-man performance, and he's helping the case who suggest that defense is the result of effort, not just skill.
The Benjamin Gulker Unsung Hero
Rodney Stuckey. 16 points on 10 attempts, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 turnovers in 36 minutes. Stuckey led the team in +/- with a +31, and it should be clear to anyone who watched the game why Rodney was so important. Tonight, Detroit saw the Rodney Stuckey that could be-- the player who can score at will (60% shooting tonight) but who can also defer to his teammates. Having a fiery Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva gave Stuckey an outlet, and until the 4th quarter Stuckey had more assists than he did field goal attempts. If anyone needed an example that Rodney Stuckey can be an effective starting point guard on a winning team, tonight was that example.
Let's do more of this, yeah? We can do it against a solid defensive team. Now let's see if we can do it against a team that can score, as well as a team with a scoring frontcourt.
Elsewhere in the NBA
Everyone in the Central Division won tonight, except for Chicago. Chicago now shares a 4-4 record with Detroit, making us a step closer to the 8th seed. Milwaukee beat Denver, Indiana beat Golden State, Lebron beat Dwight and Chicago lost to Toronto. That makes every single team in the Central Division a .500 team, something no other division can boast.