The game I fell in love with the 2009-10 Detroit Pistons

Charlie Villanueva is attended to Mike Abdenour and Arnie Kander (Screen shot from Need4Sheed video).

Charlie Villanueva went up for a shot in the fourth quarter against the Hawks last night. Like the Pistons so many times this season, he got knocked down by his opponent and his own team compounded the problem.

Zaza Pachulia scratched Villanueva’s nose, and the first-year Piston went crashing into Ben Wallace’s hip. With blood gushing from his nose, Villanueva sat on the sideline patiently waiting for it stop. When that didn’t work, he sat on the bench patiently waiting for the flow to end.

Mike Abdenour, Arnie Kander, a towel, a timeout and some gauze stuffed up his nose finally stopped Villanueva’s bleeding. Then, the forward went to the free-throw line and finally stopped the Pistons’ bleeding.

Sure, they snapped a snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 94-88 win over Atlanta. But more importantly, they became a team I – and I suspect many other Pistons fans – can be passionate about.

Before that moment, the Pistons had felt like strangers. Most of the team is new from last year – and even though Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins are in their second stints in Detroit, there was still a getting-to-know-you-again period.

Sure, the newcomers seemed like good guys. And I still think they’ll a good team when healthy.

But what had they done to endear themselves?

There were signs: a victory over the Magic, a three-game winning streak against teams that appeared to be battling Detroit for playoff position and Wallace’s resurgence.

But mostly, they showed slow play, a lack of interior scoring and poor development from key players. Injuries are certainly a fair excuse, but this deep into the season, there should have been more evidence the Pistons are on the right track.

It’s not like they had to do much to surpass last year’s squad.

And that makes it OK their breakthrough moment was sort of contrived. This wasn’t a cheap shot or a hard foul. But the Pistons needed something to rally around, and they did.

Villanueva, who didn’t return to the game, doesn’t deserve all the credit. His free throws just put Detroit up six with 9:30 left. It was a full team effort down the stretch.

  • Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum displayed a nice court sense, knowing when to shoot and when to pass.
  • Jonas Jerebko played tremendous defense, especially when he stole the ball on a late two-on-one Atlanta fast break.
  • Jason Maxiell confidently made a couple shots.
  • Wallace grabbed rebound after rebound, especially offensively.

In itself, it was a nice win. The Hawks, who entered the game 12-3, are one of the East’s better teams.

But take a step back. When’s the last time the Pistons had such an inspiring effort?

They were confident. They were aggressive. They were smart.

They even bled. And that should make many fans want to bleed for them (figuratively – we’ll leave the literal version to the professionals).