Will Bynum scored 17 in the Pistons' 113-102 loss to the Mavericks Saturday at The Palace. (Clarence Tabb Jr. / Detroit News)
Auburn Hills — There are a few interesting things going on with the Pistons as they head into a Murderers’ Row of games that could wipe out their slight playoff chances.
Brandon Jennings sometimes does not finish games. Backup point guard Will Bynum does. And he has been better than Jennings in many games.
This is strange in the NBA, because coaches usually go with the money man to decide games. Jennings makes $7.7 million, and Bynum $2.7 million. Jennings was brought here in a trade from the Bucks to be a difference maker. Bynum’s job is to fill in the holes.
But Bynum has been a more reliable player. He also brings energy off the bench, which is vital for a team that sometimes does not show much energy.
“He is a competitor,” teammate Rodney Stuckey said. “He is always ready to play when his name is called.”
Bynum brought energy with nine points and seven assists as the Pistons rallied for a 115-107 victory over the Hawks on Friday. He had 17 points and eight assists in Saturday’s 113-102 loss to the Mavericks — even thrilling the crowd with a no-look pass to Josh Smith and a killer crossover and bucket.
Bynum has earned the trust of interim coach John Loyer.
Yes, he has his moments where he makes mistakes. But Bynum also brings the heat most nights.
“It is definitely rewarding, but I want to win,” Bynum said. “That is my only concern. I want to be in the playoffs. I want to be around winners. I want to be in a winning atmosphere.
“It is much better for everyone, not just myself.”
Here is big news on the Pistons front. Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored five points during Saturday’s loss.
Why is this big news?
It was just the second time in the last 10 games he scored. Caldwell-Pope has served up more bagels than Einstein Bros.
But Caldwell-Pope became more aggressive against the Mavs and did not simply settle for jumpers. It is a game plan he must continue, because he does not look like a confident shooter. He also is under scrutiny in this town because many Detroit fans wanted the Pistons to take former Michigan standout Trey Burke. His name comes up in conversation all the time.
Burke is not killing it as much as some people want you to believe, but he is showing signs of being a good NBA point guard with the Jazz. It’s fair to wonder if the Pistons would have been better off allowing Burke to learn under the wings of Chauncey Billups and Bynum, before handing the team over to him next season.
But this is one of the dangers of owner Tom Gores handing down a playoffs-or-else edict. Unless the rookie is named Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas, you normally do not win with rookie point guards.
If the focus was success in the long-term, maybe you go with Burke. But the edict was to win now. That is why the Pistons traded for Jennings.