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Pistons' Wood takes advantage of extra playing time

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Christian Wood is getting valuable experience while the Pistons fight through this injury-filled stretch.

Detroit — Christian Wood was a blur on the floor. At 6-foot-10, rather than just settling in the paint and calling for the ball, he flashed through the post, to the wing and called for the ball. He put up a 3-pointer and it fell through.

All in the plan.

It’s been a good start to the season for Wood, who has flashed plenty of brilliant stretches, but just as he’s made coach Dwane Casey take notice of the positive plays, Wood has balance it with anguish on some others because of missing a defensive switch or not closing out on an offensive player, leading to an open 3-pointer.

For now, it’s what Casey is going to have to deal with, because of the production: 9 points and 3.7 rebounds in about 15 minutes. The added benefit is his 3-point shooting, at a dizzying clip of 58 percent (7-of-12).

Cutting the mistakes will lead to more playing time, but for now it’s just a matter of playing through the miscues until the rest of the regular rotation gets healthy.

“He’s trying to (improve). He’s working at it and watching a lot of film to learn situations he’s not been in before or been able to play through,” Casey said before Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks. “He’s been in situations (with other teams) where he can play through his mistakes — but we’re not in a situation where he can do that. He’s learning; he’s getting better.”

With Blake Griffin sidelined for the first couple of weeks of the season, the minutes off the bench are plentiful for Wood and Thon Maker, but it seems Wood is gaining an advantage and getting more of the playing time.

So far, he’s growing into it.

“The young man is talented and had a lot of fouls the other night (against the Washington Wizards) that weren’t called but I told him, ‘You’re going to have to earn it.’ Casey said.

“Don’t look for the officials for help. You’re going to have to earn your keep, continue doing what you’re doing and ultimately, you’re going to get the help from the officials and get a call.”

Intangibles deficit

With Griffin, Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson out indefinitely because of injuries, the Pistons not only are missing their scoring production, but are missing their emotional presence and leadership on the court, as well.

More of their younger players having been in the rotation could yield dividends when they have their full complement of players, but for now, there are some growing pains that go with missing some of their top players.

“The physicality, you miss and the experience — that, you miss. There were so many situations the other night and it’s not the guys’ fault; it’s just Father Time,” Casey said. “Just to understand the experience is what Derrick brings to the table; that is what Blake brings to the table. Again, all we can do is try to prepare guys like that for those situations, to be ready the next time.

“That is why it is difficult to win in this league with young players — the experience, the physicality that Blake, Derrick, Reggie and those guys have, you can’t replace that. The only thing that can replace that is time — and we’re short on it.”

The new crew

The rebuilt Knicks are totally different than last season, with a revamped roster, including former Pistons Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington and the injured Reggie Bullock. All three signed as a free agents and Morris is in the starting lineup.

It was the first matchup this season for the Morris twins and early in the third quarter, they traded 3-pointers and got both teams’ offenses started.

"It's just like us — when you have so many new faces coming together, it takes time. You add to that the lack of training camps and the cutback of exhibitions and it takes teams (longer to jell)," Casey said.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard