Friday, May 23, 2008

Cool As A Cucumber Stuckey Playing Like A Playoff Veteran

I'm beginning to think that if you slice Rodney Stuckey open, you could use the contents that spills out as a refreshing drink. Ice water.

Stuckey was fearless yesterday in the Pistons' series-squaring 103-97 win over the Celtics in Boston in the NBA's Final Four. Never was it more apparent than in the fourth quarter.

The Pistons' Ice Cube: Rodney Stuckey

Stuckey stuck jumpers -- tossing well-aimed daggers into the belly of the playoff beast -- with the calm and confidence of a ten-year veteran. And they were big jumpers -- the kind that muzzle crowds and keep that 400-pound gorilla, aka momentum, from shifting into the other direction. Tape over the jersey number and you'd have thought No. 1, Chauncey Billups, was draining those shots. You know, Mr. Big Shot himself.

But it was Stuckey, and the axiom that says a rookie isn't really a rookie by this point of the season has never been more true when it comes to the, ahem, rookie guard from someplace called Eastern Washington. In fact, I'd say Stuckey has not only shed the traditional rookie label, he's somewhere in the middle of his third season, the way he's been playing in this year's playoffs. Never before -- not even during the title run of 2004 -- have the Pistons had the luxury of entrusting crucial playoff minutes at point guard in the hands of anyone other than Billups, Lindsey Hunter excepted. Yet Stuckey has thrived this post-season, competently running the team and deftly seeking his shot when it's appropriate. Oh, and sticking those 18-to-20 foot jumpers when it's needed, too.

Rodney Stuckey is not why the Pistons beat the Celtics last night, stealing home court into the Boston night. But his on-court presence has yet to be why they've lost -- which is just as good.

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