Van Gundy rethinks bench strategy after devastating run

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Phoenix — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had gotten into a comfortable routine with how he wanted to use his bench. Through the first three wins, there weren’t any glaring weaknesses from the second unit.

But the loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday seems to have changed things.

The Pacers went on a 20-0 run early in the second quarter against the second unit and the deficit proved to be too much of an uphill climb for the Pistons in the second half.

Van Gundy took some of the blame for not getting some of his starters back in the game sooner to help stem the tide.

“That game turned around really quickly and it was a mismanagement of our bench that led to a lot of problems,” Van Gundy said Friday, ahead of the Pistons’ matchup against the Phoenix Suns. “I wasn’t the only problem, but it was not good. It was not well done and we’ve got to do a better job of it.”

The reserves combined for one field goal — Spencer Dinwiddie’s bucket early in the fourth quarter — on 12 attempts. Van Gundy said the fix is to keep at least one starter on the floor, to add more scoring options.

The problem, though, is that it takes some of the rhythm and scoring punch out of the initial burst of the starting unit in the first quarter. But to avoid that lull, Van Gundy is more than willing to tinker to find the right mix.

“Conceivably, you could be off to a really good start and you’re breaking the lineup when you’re going well,” he said. “If you don’t, there’s no way to keep a starter on the floor. I’m not going to play somebody 16 to 18 straight minutes in the first half.”