Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Villanueva Rolling In Starting Lineup

Steve St-Pierre
Sports Writer
In Play! Magazine
sstpierre@inplaymagazine.com

Pistons veteran Charlie Villanueva worked hard this summer to bounce back from a miserable, injury-plagued season with hopes of being reinserted into the team's starting lineup. He's done just that, playing his best basketball since signing with Detroit in the summer of 2009 and has quietly been the Pistons' most consistent player this season.

Despite only being named the starting power forward just four games ago, Villanueva has been productive all season, averaging 14 points and over five rebounds per game. He's been a major scoring threat both inside and out, and his defense has improved, averaging close to a block a night.

Another factor that could have led to additional motivation for Villanueva came early in the season in a Nov. 2 game against Boston. Villanueva accused Celtics forward Kevin Garnett of calling him a "cancer patient." It created headlines across the country, and tonight the two will square off again at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The Pistons are still without injured veteran Jonas Jerebko, who started over Villanueva last season at power forward. It's possible Jerebko, who doesn't plan on returning until mid-February at the earliest, will compete for the spot this season. As long as Villanueva continues to produce on a nightly basis, it's going to be difficult for John Kuester, Pistons Head Coach, to keep him off the floor.

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