Game Notes: Knicks at Pistons

December 31, 2009

If it aint one thing it’s another!

Injuries have hampered the Detroit Pistons all season long. Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, and Will Bynum have all been hit with the injury bug at one point this season. It’s been so many injuries that fans are not really sure what the REAL Pistons will look like when they are all on the roster at one time.

When they squared off against the New York Knicks on December 29, 2009 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in one of their last home games of the year, it would be no different.

Charlie Villanueva was a game-time decision as he suffered from the stomach flu and Will Bynum, as I would find out later, was out with bilateral ankle soreness.

Villanueva even updated his twitter page prior to the game. It popped on my page as: “CV31: Game time decision for me. Gonna see how I feel during warm-ups. Heading to the gym.”

Pre-Game

Walking into the locker room, Pistons guard Will Bynum stands by the training room in conversation with a Pistons employee. Dressed in full practice gear, without any socks, I was shocked at how small he was. Of course, I’ve seen him before but usually it’s just a “Hey, what’s up?” kind of thing and I’m gone.

Not trying to interrupt his convo, I simply tap him and ask him could I have a word with him when he was done and he said “Sure! I will come back there as soon as I’m done.”

As I waited for Bynum in the locker room, a few of the players (Austin Daye, Jason Maxiell, and Jonas Jerebko) all studied film on the Knicks. The “We Are Young Money” album also blasted through the speakers giving me some sort of entertainment as I waited.

After about three minutes, Rodney Stuckey strolled through holding a pair of dapper red, white, and blue Adidas singing along to “Bedrock” as I caught up with him for a quick second…

SLAM: You’ve been putting up numbers this year. Do you think you have been shining so much because of all the injuries?
Stuckey: Uh, yeah. I know that once all those guys stepped out and got hurt that I just had to step my game up. We went on like a five-game winning streak but we’re kinda in a slump right now but once we get everybody healthy, we’ll be alright. I think if we go on a five-game winning streak then we’re right back in the fifth or sixth spot so we’re right there.

SLAM: I see that your jumper is looking a lot better, have you been putting more emphasis just on improving your jumper and do you think your numbers have improved because of that?
Stuckey: Yeah. I think hitting a couple of more jump shots is getting me a couple more points. (laughs as Will Bynum steps in the locker room)

SLAM: So everybody has been talking about y’all two (Stuckey and Bynum) but how much do y’all enjoy playing together?
Stuckey: Aw, I love this man. He’s cool and we just chill.

SLAM: The streets always debating on who’s better but we’re just happy to have y’all both here…
Stuckey: I like his game, he’s a quick point guard, can get up, got boosties. He’s good!

SLAM: Thanks man! (transitions to Bynum)…First of all, I read a story on you in the Bounce Magazine and before that I didn’t know that you were a streetball legend like that. So talk about playing in Chicago and how it used to be down there…
Bynum: You know I grew up in the city and kind of all around the city so everybody pretty much know me from basketball and I’ve been in like every neighborhood playing against the best player and whoever was their top player. I mean just all the time, just playing since I was five years old.

SLAM: So why do you think you have been able to bring that streetball game into the big stage?
Bynum: I think everybody got a little streetball in them and if they tell you don’t than they probably lying. The top players definitely do. No matter if they from overseas or no matter where they from, they got it in their game. They’ve watched somebody who had it in their game, tried to imitate them or something like that and it’s the same with me.

SLAM: When you’re playing against the Knicks tonight…
Bynum: Nah, I aint playing (smiles)

SLAM: You aint playing tonight?
Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

SLAM: Aw, I thought you was playing tonight?
Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

SLAM: Oh, for real…
Bynum: Yeah…

SLAM: So what’s wrong with you now?
Bynum: For the past like three weeks, I been playing with a sprained right ankle and I sprained my left ankle in Philadelphia and now I got a bad bone bruise on the bottom of my left foot and I’m just trying to heal it and get back 100%.

SLAM: Is it pretty tough, because you was in your zone, to kind of get back in the groove that you was in earlier in the year?
Bynum: Yeah, it’s been tough playing hurt because people try to judge you while you’re hurt taking it not that you’re hurt because of the way you’re moving sometimes but it’s been a learning process. I’m definitely learning about it and now I gotta get myself healthy and get back to the way that I’m capable of playing. 

Game

With matching 11-19 overall records, it surprised me that 22, 076 fans showed up to see the game in what was listed as a sellout! It couldn’t have been because of the Ben Wallace poster night so it had to be because of Benton Harbor, Michigan native, Wilson Chandler’s return home. He even had his own little section in the lower level (Shout out to my boy Justin from Detroit, who came with Wil’s fam and showed him some love).

Chandler didn’t disappoint as he chipped in 23 points in just under 38 minutes of action on 10 of 20 shooting. He also grabbed 9 boards and 3 steals. David Lee led the for the Knicks with 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. Sitting next to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, I had a very entertaining night as we chatted all the way through.

New York was definitely in the building!

While Villanueva did end up playing, he wasn’t much of a factor as he only played 12 minutes and didn’t score a bucket. The Pistons were led by Ben Gordon with 17 points, Rodney Stuckey with 15 points, and Rip Hamilton with 16 points on a nasty 5 of 21 shooting night.

The Knicks defeated the Pistons 104-87 handing them their eighth straight loss.

Post-Game

Despite the Knicks winning ways as of late, it still ticks me off that Nate Robinson isn’t in the lineup. Why is Mike D’Antoni Marbury-ing this man? Let him play or trade him…it’s simple!

This game marked his 13th straight game on the DNP list. Although he hasn’t been playing, Robinson continued to keep a positive attitude all throughout the night as he cheered on his teammates while entertaining them as well. In the visitor’s locker room, I had a word with Nate. I had to see how he remains so strong.

SLAM: How are you staying positive throughout this whole situation right now?

Robinson: Uh, God! That’s it.

SLAM: I see you got a lot of strength man and I admire that because a lot of players wouldn’t be able to stay so positive about that…

Robinson: Uh yeah, I imagine I’m gonna play one day. I mean if it’s not now than it’s definitely gonna be again. I don’t know for who but hopefully one day.

SLAM: How are you staying in shape?

Robinson: I workout two times a day every game day, run the bleachers, and shoot my same shots. I do abs and if I don’t do that, I ride the bike for like 20-30 minutes.

SLAM: Just keep a positive attitude..

Robinson: Thanks man! I appreciate it.

FREE NATE ROBINSON!!!!

*This post can also be viewed at Slamonline.com!

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