Charlie Villanueva just played the best game of his Pistons career. The three-point specialist decided it was up to him to step into Andre Drummond's rather large shoes and delivered a great 18-point, 13-rebound performance in the Detroit Pistons' 105-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on a snowy Saturday at the Bradley Center.
Three of those 18 points were late in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 100-100 when Villanueva took a Will Bynum pass form the top of the key, dribbled himself into position and connected as the shot clock was expiring.
But importantly, it wasn't just three pointers for Villanueva. He was driving into the lane and looking for quality shots in the paint, at the baseline and at the elbow. He also blocked out well all night and picked up the rebounding slack the Pistons needed with Drummond out, and especially when Greg Monroe was getting his rest on the bench.
CV grabbed 13 rebounds for first time as a member of the Detroit Pistons. He only had 13 or more 12 times in his career before tonight, eight as a member of the Bucks. It was also only his seventh double-double as a member of the Pistons.
When asked about his teammate's big game, Jose Calderon said Villanueva was "caliente."
Of course, one of the reasons CV was so effective was the en fuego play of Jose Calderon, who, despite playing only his fourth game as a member of the Pistons, was putting his teammates in position to succeed all night. And he was more than just a distributor, he was a pace setter. He knew when to push, when to slow down, when to take his own shot and when and where to deliver it to teammates.
Calderon finished with a super point guardy, super efficient 23 points and 10 assists on 10-of-13 shooting. Rounding out the Pistons double-double hat trick was Monroe, who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
One thing to keep an eye on, though, is Detroit's suddenly shallow bench. We already talked about Villanueva's heroics and Rodney Stuckey had a good night with 19 points on only nine shots. But coach Lawrence Frank obviously doesn't trust Jonas Jerebko and yanked Slava Kravtsov after four extremely ineffective minutes. With Will Bynum also struggling tonight, the lack of depth was a problem.
That meant the Pistons were once again playing largely an eight-man rotation on the second night of a back-to-back. Interior defense was definitely a problem as any time Monroe sat down the Pistons were relying on Jason Maxiell, Ktrl-V or CV.
Brandon Knight -- shooting guard -- again left much to be desired. He scored just four points on a dreadful 2-for-13 night. He played so poorly that he rarely saw the floor in the fourth quarter, with Frank preferring to keep Bynum on the court despite some frustrating ole defense late.
Luckily, Knight wasn't the only player willing to let poor results stand in the way of jacking up shots. Brandon Jennings led all scorers with 26 points but he needed 27 shots to get there.
In fact, the Bucks were largely done in by their backcourt as the combined effort of their three guards -- Jennings, Monta Ellis and Beno Udrih -- resulted in 12-of-43 shooting, 12 assists and seven turnovers.
It's good to think that night in and night out the Pistons will be the team with the productive backcourt for a change.