3-Game Streak

Stuckey-led bench keys 26-point turnaround in win over Bobcats

TEAM COLORS

The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

– Rodney Stuckey had his second double-double in three games since enduring a two-game benching. His 24 points and 11 assists (with only two turnovers) mean he’s averaging 22.7 points and 8.3 assists over those three games. Stuckey, again for the second time in three games, played the entire second half. Will Bynum missed his second straight game with a knee strain. Tracy McGrady played just eight minutes in the first half, then not at all after halftime.

BLUE COLLAR – The Pistons bench, led by Stuckey, scored 68 points, the most since they scored 71 at Cleveland in April 2008. The only starter who played more than half the game for the Pistons was Greg Monroe (29 minutes). The bench helped the Pistons dig out of a 15-point hold, cutting the deficit to three midway through the second quarter, then stretched a lead the starters handed them late in the third quarter to win convincingly. In addition to Stuckey’s 24 points, two other Pistons reserves scored double figures, Charlie Villanueva with 20 and Jason Maxiell with 10.

RED FLAG – Against an underwhelming Charlotte offense that was missing leading scorer Stephen Jackson, the Pistons allowed the Bobcats to tack 40 points on the board in the first quarter, when they shot 77 percent (17 of 22), including 4 of 4 from the 3-point line. After that woeful defensive start, the Pistons stiffened, holding the Bobcats to 38 points in the second and third quarters (19 in each) and holding them to 61 over the final three quarters.

Sluggish start, fast finish. It wasn’t just the story of the Pistons’ night, when they allowed Charlotte 40 first-quarter points and trailed by 15 only to win by 11, it looks like it’s becoming the story of their season. Sunday’s win was their third straight, though the comeback began too late to put the Pistons in position to make a run at the playoffs.

The Pistons won the game the way they thought they would win a lot of them this season – with their depth.

A second unit that consisted of Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye and Jason Maxiell first helped cut into that early 15-point deficit by holding Charlotte to 19 second-quarter points, then preserved a lead the starters built in the third quarter so well that John Kuester allowed them to go the distance in the fourth quarter.

“We weren’t playing defense in the first quarter,” said Stuckey, who led them with 24 points and 11 assists and played the entire second half, starting for Tracy McGrady after halftime on a night Will Bynum (knee strain) was again unavailable. “We just came out in the second quarter, the second group came in, we got back in the game. Then the third quarter, we came out and got stops. We were running on them and got some easy baskets and that gave us the lead.”

The win snapped Detroit’s 11-game losing streak on the road. The Pistons’ last win away from The Palace came at Cleveland on Feb. 9.

After the Pistons took an early 8-4 lead, Charlotte went on a 17-2 run and finished a torrid first quarter shooting 77 percent. The Bobcats were held to under 45 percent the rest of the way and scored two fewer points in the second and third quarters combined than they did in the first.

“Our second unit gave us a lot more energy,” Kuester said. “I thought Rodney Stuckey did a great job and our bench played extremely well. We looked like a totally different team in the that third period. We got a couple of stops in a row and that helped us and our energy picked up.”

“Stuckey has been terrific for us all year,” said Charlie Villanueva, who added 20 in 24 minutes. “Which role coach gives him, as a starter or coming off the bench, he’s been real good for us.

“We were just trying to come in and change the game. We gave up an early lead to them. They were up by 15 at the end of the first quarter. We let them score too many points. The second unit just tried to go in there and provide the team with a spark.”