By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – Without a doubt, Carmelo Anthony and Josh Smith earned their star labels and salaries. On Tuesday night, sixth man Rodney Stuckey outplayed both.
Both Anthony and Smith got plenty of points, 25 and 19, respectively, but both had some unforgivably sloppy moments. Anthony turned the ball over seven times, and both he and Smith received technical fouls. Anthony got in trouble for jawing with referees, while Smith got the “T” for slamming the ball against the goal post after a play.
Stuckey, who finished as Detroit’s leading scorer with 21 points, sparked the Pistons and then carried them from the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, building a lead from which New York Knicks could not come back. He scored 12 straight in that span, seven to finish out the third and five in a row to start Detroit strong in the fourth.
Stuckey also racked up five assists and was perfect, 5 for 5, from the free throw line.
Making $8.5 million this season, Stuckey is hardly a bargain as a non-starter, but he gave the Pistons their money’s worth Tuesday night.
“Stuckey has this part of his game where he gets to the rim at will,” Detroit center Andre Drummond said. “He can put the ball up and score, and he can pass the ball as well too, so having him the floor kind of throws people off because not only can he pass the ball to the bigs but he can get to the rack and score as well – and finish.”
Smith, who made just 7 of 19 shots from the floor, also credited Stuckey for being what the Pistons needed Tuesday.
“When he plays at the level he’s capable of, he’s a scary player,” Smith said. “We all depend on him to play big for us, and he’s been doing that.”
Stuckey was much less effusive after the game, looking collected and emphasizing that Tuesday was just one game.
“My role is to come off the bench and just bring energy, and that’s what I’m just trying to do this year,” Stuckey said.
“They’ve got some guys that are hurt,” Stuckey added. “We just tried to take advantage – transition, they like to switch a lot of pick-and-rolls and stuff like that, so we tried to get people down in the post too as well. It was working for us tonight. One game. Got to keep rolling though.”
Surely, though, Stuckey’s performance Tuesday was a solid start.