Bench gives Pistons unexpected edge

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The 2005 Finals have confounded us in countless ways, from the four straight blowouts to Tim Duncan's struggles to San Antonio's unusual 3-point dominance. Thursday night's contest provided yet more evidence of how this series has run counter to our expectations: the difference in the benches.

Entering the Finals, the conventional wisdom was that San Antonio's second unit held a huge advantage. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was comfortable using 11 players, and his second unit included seasoned vets like Robert Horry, Brent Barry and Glenn Robinson. Meanwhile, Larry Brown's Pistons had used an eight-man rotation in the postseason, and only one reserve, Antonio McDyess, had scored with any consistency.

That advantage hasn't held up, however. The Spurs' subs have been outscored 96-60 by the Pistons through four games, including a mammoth 35-12 edge for Detroit in Game 4. "The bench was awful," Popovich said. "We got nothing off the bench [Thursday] night in any way, shape or form at either end of the floor."

Hang on, Pop, it gets worse.