Yesterday was a great day to be an NBA fan. Exciting NBA basketball was played, as teams push for playoff (and lottery) position - and for one of the only times this year, the Pistons were a part of the excitement, nearly toppling the championship-caliber Chicago Bulls in overtime.
But it wasn't just the strong Pistons' performance against a championship-league team that capture Pistons attention. Charlie Villanueva, who had played only 39 minutes and scored only 17 points prior to yesterday's game, scored 13 points in 20 minutes, both season highs.
David Mayo caught up with Coach Frank after the game (via Mlive.com).
"Over these remaining games I want to continue to look and evaluate what we have," Frank said. [...]
"One of the things is this, that we were averaging 74 points a game," in two previous losses to the Bulls, Frank said in explaining the decision. "And if you look at the second and fourth quarters against Chicago, we had a nine-point quarter, we had a 10-point quarter, we had a 13-point quarter. "So what we wanted to see is, as long as we were able to hold the defensive end of the bargain, Charlie in there to stretch the floor."
Stretch the floor he did, launching 6 three-point attempts, again in just 20 minutes. Ironically though, Charlie did the bulk of his damage inside, converting 4 of 5 shots at the rim against a solid interior defense anchored by Joachim Noah. Remember when Mike Payne illustrated how good Charlie Villanueva can be in the post? Maybe there's something to that...
Previously, Frank indicated that if Charlie were to play, someone else would have to sit. Obvious as it sounds, he made that point to demonstrate that the guys ahead of Charlie in the rotation have been playing well, and playing Charlie meant that someone who had been performing well would have to sit.
Yesterday, Jonas Jerebko was the odd man out, earning a DNP-CD.
To be honest, I didn't even realize Jonas hadn't played until I checked the box score at the end of regulation, at which point I didn't care. It was a great game for the team, and team comes before individual -- especially in games like this.
If this were to become a long-term strategy, however, that woud be another matter.
Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. Frank indicated he plans to continue playing Jonas at power forward, as well as small forward - something many of us have hoped to see more of since Jonas' early performance as a rookie. Jonas' rebounding ability makes him a natural pairing next to a stretch four like Villanueva, whose ability to crash the offensive boards is limited by his perimeter-oriented offensive game.
The Free Macklin train appears to be gaining more steam, and Frank assured the press that Macklin will be freed at some point this season. Hopefully soon, Coach, because there isn't that much time left. It stands to reason that his chance will come sometime between Tuesday and Thursday, when the Pistons play three games in as many days.
Charlie V getting a look, Macklin to be freed, and Jonas at the three. There's something there to like for just about every Pistons fan, I'd imagine.
Assuming, of course, that Jonas Jerebko DNP-CD's are a thing of the past.