On Tuesday against the Kings, the Pistons did something that has been fairly common this season — they built a large lead only to see it shrink in the second half. But for the second straight game, the Pistons didn’t completely fall apart in that scenario and held on to beat Sacramento.
Contributions from the effective bench unit of Will Bynum, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye and Andre Drummond once again helped key the team, and the emergence of those players — Bynum, Villanueva and Daye, in particular — as legitimate, key rotation players continues to be so big a surprise that ‘surprise’ really isn’t an adequate descriptor for it. The Pistons have now won three straight games, they are 3-0 on their current homestand and, shockingly, are not even that far out of playoff contention despite their abysmal start to the season.
|Jason Maxiell, PF 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -14Four turnovers for a guy who doesn’t really have plays called for him is, obviously, bad. Other than that, Maxiell was serviceable, but the was still the fourth best big the Pistons put on the court in this game and he played the second most minutes.|
|Tayshaun Prince, SF 35 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -2Prince continues to do a little bit of everything, settling in as a role player but also still occasionally knowing when to go into iso mode and get a good shot for himself. Because the team has been so bad, Prince’s play gets overlooked a bit, but he’s had a really nice season, particularly because not many people thought he’d willingly accept a reduced role in the offense on a young team.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 33 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | +1Singler didn’t do much offensively in this game, but he and really all of Detroit’s perimeter defenders played good defense on Sacramento’s guards. Singler’s length helped contest jumpers and he and Detroit’s other guards also did a nice job forcing turnovers.|
|Greg Monroe, C 38 MIN | 6-13 FG | 6-8 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 18 PTS | +4DeMarcus Cousins had a big game, but Monroe was nearly as effective. Monroe did have four turnovers, an issue that continues to plague him, but he worked hard defensively and even blocked two shots.|
|Brandon Knight, PG 35 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 20 PTS | +5Knight had his first 20-point game in more than two weeks. He didn’t pick up an overwhelming number of assists, but he only turned it over twice and his defense was good.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 11 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +10Villanueva’s a specialist and nothing more at this point for the Pistons. So, even if he did little else, knocking down three of five 3-point attempts qualifies as a very good game for him.|
|Austin Daye, PF 21 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +15Daye’s play has been incredibly encouraging. He’s always looked like a NBA player — he’s big, athletic, moves well, handles the ball decently for his size and, most importantly, his shot is fluid and natural. He just needed the ball to start going in for him. It took a long time for that to start happening again regularly, but now that it is, it is once again easy to see him as a decent prospect as long as he continues to make shots.|
|Andre Drummond, C 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +11Just another ho-hum 11 rebound/three block game for Drummond in very limited minutes. His presence, even with the few mistakes (and seriously … those mistakes are rapidly decreasing), just simply makes the Pistons a much different team. Tonight, with Maxiell not playing well, Drummond really should’ve played more. Fortunately, it wasn’t a decision that cost Detroit the game.|
|Will Bynum, PG 21 MIN | 4-9 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | 0Bynum followed up two amazing performances by being not very good against the Bucks on Saturday. Tonight, he showed that his resurgence as an instant offense playmaker might not have run its course just yet. Lawrence Frank has stumbled onto something really working well with his second unit — Bynum surrounded by a couple guys who can shoot, a guy who can finish and all guys who can run actually kind of works. It’s probably not something that can be counted on for great production every game, but for the first time this season, the Pistons are regularly playing a lineup of guys whose skills seem to mesh well together rather than get in each other’s way.|
|Lawrence FrankThe Drummond thing isn’t going away — he absolutely should’ve played more tonight and Maxiell absolutely should’ve played less. But the team has certainly improved in some respects over the last week or two, and Frank’s grades will be higher accordingly. The team did a nice job defensively against Sacramento’s guards and, though Cousins was good, he wasn’t so dominant that the Pistons couldn’t overcome his performance. The team looks more competent of late, and Frank gets some of the credit for that.|