Ravens

Pistons getting big boost from their reserves

Pistons getting big boost from their reserves

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Detroit had just upset the Miami Heat and LeBron James was reviewing the game with reporters when he saved some of his most effusive praise for an unlikely recipient.

It was Pistons guard Will Bynum, who at one point this season went three weeks without scoring.

``He controlled the game,'' James said. ``We couldn't do anything with him.''

If Detroit finishes with a respectable record - and at 13-23 the Pistons have a long way to go - these last couple weeks may end up being the turning point. Detroit has won six of eight, including a four-game winning streak that ended Sunday.

What's changed? The performance of the backups - players such as Bynum, Austin Daye, Charlie Villanueva and rookie Andre Drummond.

``They play at a pace, a spirit, an energy level, and that's important,'' coach Lawrence Frank said. ``To me, so much of the game is how, on both ends, your pieces fit together.''

Detroit is 10th in the league in bench scoring at 36.9 points per game, according to STATS. But over the last eight games, the reserves are averaging 51.1. That included an 85-point effort in a double-overtime loss at Atlanta on Dec. 26, followed by a 64-point contribution in a 109-99 victory over the Heat.

According to STATS, the 149 points by the reserves were the most in a two-game span since Phoenix got 158 in 1995.

``Within our group, you never know who's going to have a big night,'' Daye said. ``With us, it's just trying to find our niche on the offensive end, which I think we're doing. ... The second unit has done a good job of just trying to stay consistent, trying to move the ball.''

Detroit has been trying to rebuild around young players, including center Greg Monroe and guard Brandon Knight. There wasn't much progress early this season, when the Pistons started 0-8 and fell way behind in the playoff race.

From Nov. 28 through Dec. 15, Bynum played in only two of a possible 11 games and failed to score. About a week after Frank began using him again, Bynum broke through with 31 points in the loss to Atlanta before scoring 25 against Miami.

Daye was even more of a forgotten man, playing in only five of Detroit's first 26 games. Now the slender 6-foot-11 forward is looking more confident. His late 3-pointer helped seal a win over Sacramento on Jan. 1, and he followed that up with 20 points against Atlanta last Friday in the final game of the winning streak.

Villanueva played in only three of the first 13 games but has received his share of minutes since. He's shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-11 Drummond is averaging 7.1 points and 7.2 rebounds.

Guard Rodney Stuckey, a starter for much of his time in Detroit, has come off the bench 23 times this season, but he's still averaging 12.2 points.

``I think it's the perfect mixture of players playing together chemistry-wise,'' Bynum said. ``You've got me - find guys and run the team, score when possible. You've got Dre rolling to the basket. It's tough when you've got Austin and Charlie and Stuckey on the weak side. It's tough to defend.''

The big concern going forward is defense. As impressive as it is to watch the second unit score points in bunches, the Pistons have to be mindful of the other end of the court, too. The second quarter is when the backups have done a lot of their damage recently, but as Frank pointed out, Detroit was outscored 38-30 in the period during its 108-101 overtime loss to Charlotte on Sunday that snapped the winning streak.

But with the backups contributing, Frank now feels he has plenty of options, and a rare four-day stretch without a game gave him a chance to consider some varying lineup possibilities before Friday night's matchup at Milwaukee.

``Through practice, we had a bunch of different combinations throughout,'' Frank said Wednesday. ``One of the strengths of our team that we've seen over the last couple weeks is that anyone is capable of closing the game.''

Quick Links

Ravens vs. Colts preseason: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

colts-ravens.png
AP Images

Ravens vs. Colts preseason: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

After 10 days and two skirmish joint practices with the Colts, Ravens football is back.

The guys are in Indianapolis to take on the Colts in their third preseason game of the season. You can expect to see Lamar Jackson and RGIII getting more reps in, but it's unclear how much of Andrew Luck we'll see after he missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury.

While the joint practices brought a few brawls, head coach John Harbaugh has been nothing but impressed with how his team has been handling training camp and the preseason thus far.

"I think about as good as [I’ve] ever seen,” Harbaugh said via the Ravens' website. “I’d have to say our best camp in terms of guys focused on improving every day and becoming one percent better at what they do from one day to the next and keep building on that. That’s what I’m proud of.”

Ahead of their matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

Ravens vs. Colts Preseason Game:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts 

What: Preseason Week 3

When: Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana 

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock, ESPN Radio

Weather: 78 degrees, scattered thunderstorms

Preseason Schedule:

Hall of Fame Game: Thurs., 8/2 vs. Chicago Bears. 8:00 p.m. (W: 17-16) 

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:30 p.m. (W: 33-7)

Week 2: Mon., 8/20, at Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football, ESPN), 7:00 p.m. 

Week 3: Sat., 8/25 at Miami Dolphins, 7:00 p.m.

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30 vs. Washington Redskins, 7:30 p.m.

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m.

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Quick Links

Heroes on the ice: Every Capitals player's superhero character

superheros.jpg
USA TODAY Sports, Marvel and DC Comics

Heroes on the ice: Every Capitals player's superhero character

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Washington Capitals!

It's not hard to picture your favorite athletes as superheroes. What the Caps are able to do on the ice seems almost superhuman at times.

Heck, they even have uniforms!

SEE EVERY CAPITALS PLAYER'S SUPERHERO CHARACTER HERE

But the similarities don't just end with the physical attributes and abilities. When you begin to really think about each player, you can see a lot of similarities between each of them and some well-known superheroes.

If each Caps player was a superhero, which one would they be? Check out each player's superhero character here.