The Detroit Pistons' starters outscored the Atlanta Hawks' starters 88-59. Four of five Hawks starters were NBA All-Stars last year, so let that sink in for a moment. After taking into consideration the final score, 106-94, you might then realize that that means the bench must have been really bad. They were. The Pistons' bench was nearly doubled up, 35-18, and shot a woeful 8-of-25.
The starters spotted the second unit a 10-point lead in the first quarter, but three Pistons turnovers in the final two minutes of the first quarter helped the Hawks close out the frame on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 25-25. The starters built an even bigger lead in the third quarter, as big as 19, only to see the bench let it get trimmed down to as little as six with 29 seconds left in the game.
Despite the ugly performance from the bench, Stan Van Gundy remains positive that they will have good bench play this season:
"Our bench struggled," Van Gundy said to the media after the game. "And I like our bench. I think our bench will be good, just didn't have a good night tonight. "
A testament to Van Gundy's faith in his bench may have been the start of the second quarter after the Hawks extended a 9-0 run to 14-0. The Hawks went up five and had three starters in the game. Van Gundy decided to call timeout, but stuck with his second unit (plus Ilyasova). While their play did not improve the rest of the game, they managed to keep the score close enough for the starters to come in and take over.
Van Gundy will need his bench on Wednesday night, as the Pistons play the back-end of their road-and-home back-to-back against the Utah Jazz. Against the Jazz, you will probably see Anthony Tolliver, Reggie Bullock, and perhaps Spencer Dinwiddie enter the mix. Either way, a bounce back from the bench and strong play from the bench in general will be key to success.
Now your thoughts.