Which makes Stuckey’s painful left foot injury – specifically, to the joint at the base of his big toe – a damaging blow to hopes the Pistons can continue their upward ascent over the season’s final 21 games.
Throw out Sunday’s overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, in which the effects of the injury Stuckey first sustained last week at Sacramento severely limited his explosive first step and cutting ability, and Stuckey’s numbers jump off the page of late.
In nine games since the All-Star break prior to Sunday, Stuckey averaged 24.2 points on 52 percent shooting, 5.3 assists and 2.5 turnovers while attempting 8.5 free throws. In the last four games before Sunday, the numbers were even better: 26.8 points on 58 percent shooting, 7.3 assists and 2 turnovers.
The injury actually occurred during the Sacramento win last Wednesday, but Stuckey was able to gut out that game and Friday’s narrow loss at Phoenix in which he also played well. But as he’s continued to play on it, he said Monday on UCLA’s campus after practice, it began to bother him more.
“I think it was John Salmons’ foot I stepped on,” he said. “After that, it’s been sore. I’m doing what I need to do getting rehab with Arnie (Kander), trying to get me back to normal. The more I play on it, the worse it gets. Sacramento, it was killing me, but having a game later in the day (Friday in Phoenix), I think it loosened up a little bit more. I don’t know for sure, but the more I played the worse it got.”
Kander said they would use orthotic devices and other means to relieve pressure on the joint and Lawrence Frank said it’s not certain whether Stuckey will be able to play Wednesday night at Denver, when the Pistons wrap up their five-game road trip before a brief one-game stopover at The Palace to host Miami on Friday night before the Pistons immediately hit the road for a four-game trip starting Saturday in New York.
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’re re-evaluate it and see where he’s at.”
If Stuckey were unable to play, Ben Gordon would be the likely starter with Will Bynum and Walker D. Russell Jr. available in reserve.