So, were they stat padding against a bad team or did the Pistons actually find something with the second unit? Stuck is getting assists now that he has a catch & shoot guy to play with, makes me wonder how Knight's numbers would look if he had guys that could score without dribbling and pump faking 15 times before getting off the shot.Originally Posted by MLiveWASHINGTON -- A few weeks ago, Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey was sent from a starting role to the bench, by his own choice. A few months ago, Charlie Villanueva wasn't playing, not at all by choice.
Today, they have as strong a two-man chemistry as any pair on the team, and their synchronization helped propel the Pistons to a two-game win streak this weekend.
The Pistons (9-21) did what they were supposed to do to a team that's down, namely the lowly Washington Wizards, whom they defeated 96-87 Saturday, one day after a 32-point rout of the same team back home.
They did it largely because of the bench standouts, Stuckey and Villanueva, with three starters in foul trouble and Tayshaun Prince missing virtually the entire second half with an ankle sprain.
Stuckey had 18 points and eight assists, with four of those dishes to Villanueva, two of them for 3-pointers. Villanueva added a team-high and personal season-high 19 points, with a season-high seven rebounds, and returned the favor by handing both of his assists to Stuckey.
They play off each other, the penetrator Stuckey and the pick-and-pop specialist Villanueva, and opponents are finding it increasingly difficult to cope.
"They can't guard both," Villanueva said. "I feel like it's tough to guard both. They've got to give something up. And we use that to our advantage."
Stuckey had one stretch in the second quarter, during an 11-2 run to push the lead to 41-24, during which he assisted all four Pistons field goals. Such is the dynamic when he's on the floor with Villanueva.
"It opens a lot of things for me," Stuckey said. "They're worried about him popping and, at the same time, they're worried about me turning the corner and whatnot, so it helps me out tremendously."
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank was pleased that Villanueva blended drives and offensive rebounds with the 3-point shooting. A pair of second-chance baskets by Villanueva in quick succession late in the third quarter, after the Wizards had closed within six points moments earlier, were key for the Pistons.
"If you're strictly going to live outside that line, unless you're one of these dead-eye shooters, it's hard to have consistency in your game," Frank said. "Charlie can make basketball plays, he has a high basketball I.Q., he can put it on the floor, can also pass, and understands what we're trying to get done."
The Pistons took a 12-2 lead, the same score they opened up early in Friday's win, when the Wizards made one of their first 15 field-goal attempts -- they were 1 of 11 to open Friday's game -- and with a couple of other bench-induced spurts which reopened leads after the Wizards (3-22) threatened.
The Pistons needed the 52-24 bench scoring advantage after losing Prince when he landed on Nene's foot with 10:03 left in the third quarter and was forced to leave with a high right ankle sprain, and when Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Jason Maxiell all picked up their fourth fouls in the third quarter.
For the second consecutive night, the Pistons won the most important hustle categories by wide margins -- rebounding (58-43), points in the paint (36-28) and second-chance points (23-6).
With the Pistons' big men in foul trouble and Andre Drummond, who had 11 rebounds, challenged hard by Nene's return after missing Friday's game with illness, the best players on the floor weren't starters.
Villanueva said the attention Stuckey commands, plus his own ability to set screens for multiple teammates then fade to the 3-point line, allows for a "two-man game that we can use to our advantage."
"It was always there, really," Villanueva said. "Obviously, last year, we really couldn't play together that much because I was hurt. But once he was moved to the second unit, that's when coach felt really comfortable that he could use both of us. And it's working so far."
Stuckey acknowledged that he feels like a bigger threat with Villanueva on the floor.
"I know what Charlie can do," he said. "He's a pick-and-pop player. It's pretty much easy when he sets a pick and then his defender just drops off. He's pretty much wide open. It's just about reading his defender and seeing what he's doing."
The Pistons needed, and got, several good bench performances. Austin Daye had six points, five rebounds and three assists in his best game since joining the rotation. Will Bynum played 13 settling minutes at point guard with Knight battling foul trouble and didn't commit a turnover.
And the Pistons get to enjoy both the holiday season and their first three-game break this year with their second two-game win streak.
"It feels good," Villanueva said. "We have a couple days before we play again so it felt good to get these two wins and, hopefully, carry some momentum into the next one."
And for the record, no I am not advocating CV to the starting lineup