Saunders refutes a tired argument

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Defending against the charge that he might be burning out his starters, Flip Saunders pointed to league leaders in minutes played and cited the absence of any of the Detroit Pistons from the top 39.

Only Chauncey Billups made the top 40, checking in at the very bottom of the list at the time.

"We've started to rest them in the last week, and we know we have four weeks left in the regular season, and this will be when we get them some rest," Saunders said Tuesday at his office in the Pistons' practice facility. It's the same office that was occupied a year ago by a different coach who heard a similar criticism -- that he was overworking his starters at the expense of his reserves, especially the younger ones.

But Larry Brown is as gone from the premises as Darko Milicic, and Saunders isn't buying the argument that his starting five is being worked too hard.