Bolstered Backcourt

Stuckey back tonight, Jennings could be ready for Celts on Sunday

Brandon Jennings, Rodney Stuckey
Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey, who have both missed time due to injuries, could return to the lineup soon.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
MEMPHIS – The Pistons have weathered the bizarre run of preseason injuries to their backcourt about as well as they could have hoped. Without anticipated starters Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings in the opener, they held off Washington to win. Tonight they get Stuckey back. And if all goes well Sunday, Jennings will join him.

Jennings has been fitted with a protective mask, one that extends past his jawline to protect the hairline fracture discovered more than two weeks ago when he was experiencing pain relating to an impacted wisdom tooth. Maurice Cheeks said, “I think we’re going to figure it out tomorrow and see what his status is and see when he’s available. If all goes well, possibly Sunday.”

Chauncey Billups and Will Bynum will remain the starters tonight at Memphis, Cheeks said. But Stuckey will come in first off the bench at guard, a role filled in the season-opening win by rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

“Rodney probably will be the first guy off,” Cheeks said after Friday’s morning shootaround at the FedEx Forum. “Ken and (Peyton) Siva both got a lot of experience in the preseason, so I’m never ever afraid to play Kentavious, but everybody can’t play. So with Stuckey being available now, I’m going to try him out and see where he’s at and go from there.”

Both Stuckey and Jennings played in the Oct. 8 preseason opener against Macabbi Haifa but not since. The following day, the Pistons received word within 30 minutes of each other about Stuckey’s thumb injury, slammed in his car door, and Jennings’ fractured jaw.

Bynum played 38 minutes in Wednesday’s opener, Billups 31 and Caldwell-Pope 27. Cheeks said game flow, along with Stuckey’s readiness, will determine whether he uses a fourth guard against Memphis.

“In training camp, I thought he played well,” Cheeks said of Stuckey. “I thought it was unfortunate he got hurt, because he was playing extremely well. I’m looking forward to seeing him play. He can help in several ways. He has a variety of talents and he can help in a variety of ways.”