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Riding the (Wealthy) Bench: Pistons 98, Wizards 94

With Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva probably occupying the two most expensive bench seats in the NBA, Pistons fans should expect production from their reserves. In fact, you could make a strong argument that three of the bench players (Gordon, Villanueva, and Will Bynum) should be regular starters (at least while Rip and Tayshaun are out).

And so it shouldn't come as a surprise that these three, with a little help from their bench friends, combined to score more points than the starters tonight against the Wizards, 55-44. With Ben Gordon still somewhat nursing that ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago against the Cavs, someone else had to step up and fill the spotlight, though. That was the Pistons' 1st round pick, Austin Daye.

Daye was the true definition of a spark plug tonight, scoring the first seven points of the 4th quarter to help distance the Pistons from the Wizards after what was a very malodorous third quarter. Daye, who I have to say has one of the most graceful shots I've seen in a Pistons uniform, finished a perfect 5-5 on the night, which was good for 11 points.

Then there's Charlie Villanueva, who is playing starter minutes, but you have to remember he's playing with pain in his nose and in a mask, which he likens to having a hand constantly in his face. You have to admire performances like the one he had tonight: hitting tough shots in the post, being unselfish (5 assists), and then the huge three point shot he made as he was getting fouled (and sinking the ensuing free throw for the rare four-point play). Villanueva finished with 18 points on 8-19 shooting.

Finally, there's Will Bynum who, despite another poor shooting night, finished with 16 points, thanks in large part to hitting the formality free throws near the end of the game. When it looked like Washington might have a miracle finish in them, Bynum was the one who hit the free throws when he needed to.

While the bench was certainly terrific tonight, I can't give all the love to them. Rodney Stuckey was solid and the Pistons were at their worst when Stuckey was forced to sit in the third quarter due to foul trouble. That may have been coincidental, but worthy of mentioning. Stuckey had 25 points on 9-18 shooting.

Meanwhile, Jonas Jerebko didn't follow up his best offensive game Friday night with a pretty display (except for this layup), but he was still a constant pest on defense and managed to finish with his second double-double in the past four games (10 points and 11 rebounds).

Washington saw one of Caron Butler's best games of the season, as he finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Earl Boykins was great again against the Pistons and finished with 18 points. Gilbert Arenas took only nine shots and finished with just 8 points. He also had nine assists and six rebounds.

Detroit has now defeated Washington in four consecutive regular season games. More rando' thoughts after the jump.

  • Giving Stuckey more justice for his game-high 25 points:

  • With the win Detroit is on their second "winning streak" of the season. Detroit was on a three game winning streak in the second week of November before losing seven straight. If Detroit wins in Philly on Wednesday, Washington and Philadelphia would be apart of both three game winning streaks. And don't look now, but Detroit is just half a game out of the playoff picture in the Leastern Conference.
  • Speaking of the playoff picture this early, I can't remember the last time I felt I had to root against teams near the bottom half of the playoff picture. In the past decade, the Pistons making the playoffs has been sort of an automatic in my mind, and I would just root for good basketball games to watch. Now, i find myself rooting aggressively against Toronto, Milwaukee, Chicago, etc. I kind of like it.
  • Good interview with Villanueva on NBA-TV after the game.

  • The only real negative I saw from CV tonight was his 1-8 from downtown, but that one was a biggie. He was a team-best plus-11, too.
  • Kwame Brown with a solid four points and five rebounds in just 13 minutes.
  • Ben Wallace had his same ol' bright moments tonight, but he also had noticeable gaffes. For starters, he had a team-high four turnovers. The ball should never be in his hands long enough for him to do that. Then again, he did tie for the team-best five assists. Also, there were a few key possessions when the Pistons could have used a stop when he was clearly beat. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but that's just a testament to how great he's been... I'm already expecting consistent, gaudy play.
  • Yeah, this reverse was pretty sweet. Reminded me of an Aussie Argentine we had last year:

  • DaJuan Summers saw four seconds, a Washington bucket, and the hook. What a tease.
  • Game highlights:

  • Box score