Will Bynum, other Pistons reserves are going to inject some heart into this team if it takes all night

Will Bynum crouched down, having just missed what could have been the game-winning layup late in the first overtime. The point guard had put the Pistons on his back during a 22-point fourth-quarter comeback, in which he fittingly scored or assisted on 22 Detroit points. But that wasn’t enough for Bynum, who was demonstratively dejected after his miss. Then, he did something that, by now, everyone should know he’d do.

He bounced back up.

Bynum – and Rodney Stuckey and Andre Drummond and Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva – kept coming and coming at the Hawks before finally succumbing in the second overtime. Despite their 126-119 loss, this was one of the most enjoyable Pistons games of the season.

Bynum, Drummond, Daye and Villanueva played the entire fourth quarter and both overtimes together. Stuckey would have been out there the entire time if not for twisting his ankle with one second left in regulation, but he somehow returned a couple minutes after what appeared to be a nasty injury and played the rest of the way.

Of course there were mistakes all over the court. Those five players have very well-known deficiencies, and many showed. But none of that mattered, because all five of those players showed so much heart. Others (though not many) have played better, but I haven’t been more pleased with any Pistons than I was with those five tonight.

Bynum, Stuckey, Drummond, Daye and Villanueva each set their season high in minutes, and playing such a long stretch will likely prove more costly to their bodies than had that playing time been more evenly distributed throughout the game. The Pistons host the Heat in two days, and the starters owe it to those reserves to play hard for long stretches.

Bynum, Stuckey, Drummond, Daye and Villanueva didn’t earn a win, but they earned that much.

Detroit Pistons 119 Final
Recap | Box Score
126 Atlanta Hawks
Jason Maxiell, PF 22 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | -16

In the 18:25 Maxiell and Josh Smith both played power forward tonight, Smith scored 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 25 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -21

Prince’s sprained ankle didn’t really seem to bother him, and he played a solid game. He missed both his shots when he started overtime with Stuckey out injured, but considering Prince sat so long and Frank probably didn’t intend to bring him back, it’s tough to blame Prince for being a little tight in that situation.

Kyle Singler, SF 14 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -11

The Singler-as-a-shooting guard experiment may have run its course. When the the early returns proved impressive, I wondered how Singler was doing so well at a position that seemed to be a less-than-ideal fit. Perhaps, he benefited from a small sample. In his last 12 games, Singler is shooting 33 percent from the field and 22 percent on 3-pointers. Plus, his foot-speed continues to be an issue on the perimeter defensively.

Greg Monroe, C 26 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -21

Coolest Monroe moment (and second-coolest Daye moment) of the night: After Daye made the 3-pointer that put the Pistons up one with three seconds left in regulation, Monroe literally floored Daye with a chest bump. I wish he would’ve hit Smith that hard at some point. Monroe wasn’t responsible for Smith shaking his man so often, but Monroe’s help-side rotations lacked aggressiveness.

Brandon Knight, PG 23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -13

Knight shot poorly and didn’t take care of the ball (four turnovers). He looked incapable of handling point-guard duties, and that’s why, for most of the game, he didn’t.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 32 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +16

Villanueva’s 3-point shooting really gave the Pistons a lift, as did his physical defense. He was wasn’t afraid to put a body on Smith and Al Horford, and although that resulted in some fouls, it was sure better than how the Pistons defended those two earlier in the game.

Austin Daye, PF 32 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +17

Late in the fourth quarter, I tweeted that Daye had mostly just been along for the ride of the comeback fueled by his floormates. A few second later, he made what was nearly the game-winning 3-pointer. Daye’s defense – especially against Smith at small forward – was unimpressive in regulation, but after his big shot, he really got into it.

Andre Drummond, C 36 MIN | 7-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | +7

At times, Lawrence Frank was clearly dismayed with Drummond’s defensive coverage, but the coach stuck with Drummond down the stretch, anyway. More than Frank playing the other four reserves so long, this was particularly meaningful. Drummond was far from perfect defensively, but the good outweighed the bad. Offensively, his athleticism presents opportunities for high-percentage shots that aren’t available to other players. His ability to catch passes cleanly and elevate quickly for dunks especially stood out tonight.

Will Bynum, PG 36 MIN | 13-26 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 31 PTS | +6

3-pointers made in 277 minutes entering tonight: 3.

3-pointers made in 36 minutes tonight: 4.

I don’t know quite what to make of Bynum’s game tonight. It was a bit fluky, but man, was it great. Not only did he shoot well from outside, his burst to the basket created plenty of layups (including a couple good looks he missed). In the fourth quarter, he didn’t hesitated to drive and kick. Late in the game, he probably could have looked for his teammates a bit more, but he was still creating good looks for himself. Bynum plays how he plays, and once he carried the Pistons into overtime, they were justified in riding out the ups and downs for the rest of the night.

Rodney Stuckey, PG 44 MIN | 7-19 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 11 AST | 16 PTS | +1

Stuckey is tough as nails. Saturday, he played through plenty of contact a day after getting his teeth knocked in. Tonight, he returned from a serious-looking ankle injury to close the game. And once again, he proved himself to be the Pistons’ best distributor.

Lawrence Frank, HEAD COACH 

Frank rightly stuck with the reserves who brought the Pistons back into the game. That’s not always the right move, but tonight it was. Frank has often said playing time is based on merit, and tonight he backed that statement in full.

Tags: Andre Drummond Austin Daye Brandon Knight Charlie Villanueva Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Kyle Singler Lawrence Frank Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Will Bynum