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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pistons notes - Dec. 13

Pistons coach John Kuester decided to make a change after his team lost seven straight in November. One of the changes Kuester made was to bring forward Charlie Villanueva off the bench.

The change might not be permanent, but the results have been outstanding. The Pistons are 6-0 with Villanueva coming off the bench. Part of that success has been Villanueva’s unselfishness and accepting the role rather than viewing it as a demotion.

“I don’t have an ego at all. I’m as humble as they come,” Villanueva said. “It doesn’t affect me at all. I’m comfortable coming off the bench, starting, whatever coach wants me to do that’s what I’m going to do. It’s been working so far.”

Villanueva’s minutes have not declined, in fact he is averaging more than 33 minutes a game in his last four and he is averaging 17 points as a reserve.

“I’m getting starter minutes anyways,” Villanueva said. It’s not a challenge at all. Once coach calls my number I’m ready to go. ... In the beginning of the game you’re trying to get into a flow versus off the bench, they want a spark. I think I’ve done a great job of that so far.”

Villanueva has also had to adjust to playing with a mask after suffering a broken nose against Atlanta on Nov. 29. He’s shooting percentage has not suffered though, in fact it has slightly improved. He is shooting 51.4 percent with the mask as opposed to 47 percent without the mask.

Stuckey emerging as go-to guy
The Pistons injury situation has allowed Rodney Stuckey to emerge as the team’s go-to player offensively.

In the nine games that Ben Gordon has been in and out of the Pistons lineup, Stuckey is averaging 23.4 points and 5.3 assists.

“He’s done a great job,” Kuester said. “He’s showing people that he has a chance to be one of the premier guards in this league, but he’s got such a big upside. And that upside is scary both offensively and defensively.”

Kuester is hopeful Stuckey will continue that aggressiveness once the team is healthy because he has a lot of faith in Stuckey’s ability.

“It’s important he understands he doesn’t have to defer to anybody and realizes he’s one of the up-and-coming guards in this league,” Kuester said.

Wallace an All-Star?
None of the Pistons were in the top 10 at their position in the first returns on All-Star voting, but that didn’t stop Kuester from saying he believes center Ben Wallace is playing like one.

“He’s been amazing, an All-Star as far as I’m concerned,” Kuester said. “The reason that we won a few games has been Ben’s tenacity on defense and how he’s rebounding. That’s been a big key for us.”

Wallace is 11th in the league in rebounding at 10 per game, 21st in steals (1.5) and 28th in blocks (1.2).

Wallace is also fourth in the league in offensive rebounds (4.2), while the Pistons are fourth in the league as a team in offensive rebounds (12.7).


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