Pistons’ scoring statistics shine

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Memphis, Tenn. — As far as statistics go, the Pistons have one of the best scoring starting lineups in the league.

The quintet of Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova and Andre Drummond ranks second in the NBA, averaging 41.7 points per game, when all five play together.

The Washington Wizards have a grouping that posts 44.5 points, but they’ve played only two games together.

Over the long haul, the Pistons have been the most consistent and most effective, only broken up once, last week, as Morris sat out on Saturday because of left knee tendinitis.

“All of these guys have taken on more minutes and greater roles and they’ve done a good job,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s not easy and I don’t think any of them have gotten enough credit “

The Pistons added Ilyasova and Morris in the offseason and the group still is finding its groove, with some fluctuations, but the results have been good for the most part, given that each player has had an expanded role this season — some playing more minutes and some being leaned upon to produce more.

Van Gundy pointed to Morris, who is playing 11 more minutes than he did in last season’s reserve role in Phoenix, and Jackson, playing his first full season as a starter.

The balance to that is the bench ranks last in reserve scoring. But of late, the bench has been the saving grace for the Pistons in providing some big boosts to overcome double-digit deficits.

“It goes up and down and it changes. The five games before San Antonio, every single guy on our bench had positive plus-minus for five straight games,” Van Gundy said. “If you really look at what the starters were doing, you’d say over that stretch of four out of five (wins), it was the bench winning those games.”

As Aron Baynes starts to take some of the minutes from Drummond at the ends of games because of his better free-throw shooting, the stats get skewed a different way, and Stanley Johnson’s stats have dipped. But Van Gundy points to Johnson being more effective in other areas, not just in scoring.

“Our bench has gotten a lot better and they’re playing well. We’ve got pretty good balance now, and it’s the starters not quite playing as well,” Van Gundy said. “My guess is that will change. It’s always up and down and where you want to get to is you have both groups playing well on the same night, which we’ve had a couple times.”