AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—The Detroit Pistons realized in the preseason that they might have found something in the small, speedy guard combination of Ben Gordon(notes), Rodney Stuckey(notes) and Will Bynum(notes).
Tuesday, they discovered they were right.
With Tayshaun Prince(notes) (back) missing his first game in six years and Richard Hamilton(notes) (ankle) also sidelined, the Pistons got 63 points from Gordon, Stuckey and Bynum in a 85-80 victory over the Orlando Magic.
“A victory like this is sweet—there’s no question about it,” rookie Pistons coach John Kuester said. “Our guys did a great job of controlling the pace, getting the ball from one side of the court to the other and coming up with big plays. You always miss guys who play such an intricate part of what you do, but it is great to see other guys step up.”
With the smaller lineup and their reliance on getting to the basket—the Pistons only had two first-half assists and just one in the fourth quarter— they knew that Dwight Howard’s(notes) defensive presence could wreck any chance they had of winning.
The Pistons, though, went right after Howard and frustrated him into fouling out in just 17 minutes.
“We knew if we could get Dwight into foul trouble, they’d be in trouble, because we’d have an open path to the basket,” Bynum said. “So we just tried to keep attacking.”
Howard struggled all night with the fouls and a sore shoulder. Howard missed half of the third quarter after aggravating an injury sustained Sunday in Toronto, and fouled out with 3:45 left. He finished with eight points and five rebounds.
“It’s just very, very sore, but it is hard when you get hit so hard every night,” Howard said. “I’m a big guy, but it still hurts when I’m getting hit this much. It’s getting worse, but I have to keep my composure and try not to complain. The last two games, though, I’ve been very close to going off.”
“I thanked Vince for going out there, but he couldn’t attack the basket and he couldn’t keep up with Bynum,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Jameer had a nightmare. He couldn’t dribble the ball two feet without losing it tonight. It was just a terrible night for everyone, including me.”
Orlando led 41-38 at the half, despite Howard being limited to nine minutes because of foul trouble, and lost him again less than 90 seconds into the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
Howard returned midway through the period and the game was tied at 60 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We just couldn’t stop their three guards,” Van Gundy said. “We knew that’s where all of their offense was going to come from, and we couldn’t even contain them.”
NOTES: Mickael Pietrus(notes) missed his second straight game with flu-like symptoms. … Howard made Orlando’s first free throw with 5:01 left in the third quarter. … Detroit’s Jonas Jerebko(notes) became the first Swedish-born player to start an NBA game. Miles Simon, born in Stockholm, came off the bench in all five games of his brief career. … Prince had played 496 straight games since Rick Carlisle didn’t use him in a game against Memphis in April 2003, and he and Hamilton had never missed the same game in their seven-plus seasons as teammates.