Will Bynum has been my favorite Piston for most of the last three seasons.
It’s not because I think he’s underrated or deserves a larger role than his current one. But he’s always extremely entertaining. Admit it … even when he makes horrible plays, he usually makes them spectacularly. Rather than just list the things I enjoy about watching him, I’ll just point to Saturday’s fourth quarter in the Pistons’ 75-74 win over Phoenix. It had a bit of everything that is great about Bynum.
First of all, through three quarters, describing the Pistons as listless would be generous. They honestly looked worse most of tonight than they did last night vs. New Jersey, and I thought that was their worst game of the season. Then, Bynum came in in the fourth quarter and scored all 12 of his points (and didn’t miss a shot in the quarter), he didn’t turn the ball over and, more importantly, his quickness keyed a strong defensive quarter that allowed Detroit to overcome a 15-point deficit.
Bynum had great ball denials on two consecutive Phoenix inbound attempts late in the game. The Suns clearly wanted to get the ball to Steve Nash down three with less than :10 seconds to play, and Bynum just wouldn’t let him get free (unfortunately, a boneheaded foul during a deadball by Rodney Stuckey on the second inbound attempt negated Bynum’s good defensive play).
Bynum was all over the court, even where he wasn’t supposed to be. He snuck into a Phoenix huddle during a deadball. He’s short, he can get away with that.
Even his postgame interviews are fun. Eli Zaret asked him if he was "feeling good" about his spot in the rotation after this recent solid production off the bench: "Nah man! I’m not feeling good!," Bynum said with a big smile, noting that he understands that he has to keep fighting for any minutes he gets.
The Pistons played as ugly as it gets, but the team defended well enough and Bynum, Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince hit enough shots in the fourth quarter to steal one from a Phoenix team that fell asleep.
Prince’s big play
With Bynum at the line and about :11 seconds to go, he missed the second free throw that would’ve put the Pistons up three. Prince snuck in between Grant Hill and Marcin Gortat to get the rebound and get fouled on the play by Gortat.
Now, Prince split at the line as well when he could’ve put the Pistons up four, but that extra point he earned at the line turned out to be a valuable one, since the Pistons gave up a three to Channing Frye on the final play that cut the deficit to one. If Prince didn’t make that play, there would’ve been a much better chance for Phoenix to tie or take the lead.
Stuckey the shooting guard hits a snag
Stuckey had three fantastic games shooting the ball shortly after moving over to the shooting guard spot for the Pistons, and many fans, including myself, were very encouraged and felt he finally found the natural position he’s most comfortable playing.
As it turns out, he might be just as inconsistent at shooting guard as he was at point guard. He’s followed up those three great games with three horrid ones. He shot 5-for-14 vs. Boston, 3-for-12 against New Jersey and 3-for-15 against Phoenix. Only three of those attempts against Phoenix came outside of 18 feet. There’s just no excuse for Stuckey to shoot that poorly over a prolonged stretch anymore.
The new defensive stoppers
Ben Wallace returned to the lineup, coming off the bench against the Suns. His stats weren’t overwhelming — 7 rebounds, a steal and a block in about 23 minutes — but Wallace unsurprisingly was a catalyst for that defensive effort. More surprising was who the other players on the court were when the Pistons put together that fantastic defensive fourth. Noted stoppers Bynum, Ben Gordon and Daye joined Prince and Wallace.
Gordon and Bynum did a nice job keeping the Phoenix guards in front of them and the length of Daye and Prince allowed the Pistons to quickly close out on shooters. The Suns were just 2-for-9 from 3-point range in the fourth and 5-for-19 overall in the quarter.