The Detroit Pistons haven’t had their top two returning scorers
on the floor for most of this season, and they were without two of
their more reliable threats of 2009-10 in their last game.
That hasn’t stopped the short-handed Pistons from playing their
best basketball of the season.
With the statuses of those four players unknown, Detroit will
try to record its fifth consecutive victory Saturday night when it
hosts the Golden State Warriors.
Tayshaun Prince has been out with ruptured disc in his back
since the beginning of November, and Richard Hamilton has appeared
in just one game because of an ailing right ankle.
A left ankle injury has kept Ben Gordon out for four of the past
seven games, including the last two, and Will Bynum missed Thursday
night’s 101-99 victory over visiting Denver with a pair of hurt
In place of his injured teammates, Rodney Stuckey has stepped in
to average 24.0 points during the Pistons’ four consecutive
victories, scoring at least 25 in the past three.
Charlie Villanueva led the team with 27 points against the
Northwest Division-leading Nuggets on Thursday.
“We had confidence,” Villanueva told the team’s official Web
site. “We’ve been battling all year round (short-handed), so guys
in here believed that we could win this game.”
Despite their problems staying healthy, the Pistons (10-12) have
improbably boosted their scoring average to 98.5 during their win
streak after averaging 90.6 while losing eight of nine from Nov.
15-Dec. 2. They also topped 100 points for the fourth time this
“I’m just glad that we’re weathering some of these storms,” said
coach John Kuester, whose team has also won four straight at The
Palace of Auburn Hills. “I guess that’s the best way of saying
Kuester’s team will try to continue its offensive surge by
taking advantage of the NBA’s worst defense.
The Warriors have allowed 111.8 points per game this season, but
they’ve held back-to-back opponents to fewer than 100 points for
the first time this season. However, those teams – New Jersey and
Chicago – are two of the league’s lowest-scoring clubs.
One of the league’s best offenses with 107.8 points per game,
Golden State (7-15) was also held to fewer than 100 points for the
sixth time this season in Friday night’s 96-91 overtime loss to the
Bulls – its fifth defeat in six games.
“We just made some mental mistakes late in the end and didn’t
execute well and that was the difference,” guard Corey Maggette
said. “You’ve got to execute down the stretch on the road.”
The Warriors could struggle again against the Pistons, one of
the league’s best defenses (95.1 ppg). They’ve averaged 96.0 points
on 40.6 percent shooting while losing their last four against
Like the Pistons, the Warriors have been short-handed for much
of this season. Only eight players were active for the last two
games, and coach Don Nelson is home in California recovering from
pneumonia with Keith Smart leading the team in his place.
Monta Ellis tried to carry the Warriors by averaging 31.0 points
over a nine-game stretch, but he’s fallen off that pace in the past
two with 18 and 27 points, respectively.
Detroit has won 21 of 28 over Golden State since 1995-96 and 13
of 14 at home with its only loss coming March 5, 2007.