Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 3/7/12

As the Lakers got set to take on the Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills, it didn’t seem at all unlikely that someone would score 34 points.  After all, that’s exactly the figure that Kobe Bryant had been averaging since the All-Star break–or since he first put on the face mask that has, for some reason, completely taken the basketball world by storm.

Funny that he’d do this in Rip Hamilton’s old stomping grounds, but Bryant once again put the internet in a frenzy when he took the floor in a new mask.  This one was a slightly different shape, and a little bit smaller.  Oh, and it was also black.  While fans and analysts alike threw out comparisons to Batman and speculated that Bryant would play like the basketball equivalent, I couldn’t help but notice that he looked more like Catwoman (you be the judge).  As for how he played… well, he did hit a huge bucket at the end of regulation, but he wasn’t the man who scored 34 (or even the Laker who scored 30, for that matter).

Maybe Rodney Stuckey knew he was feelin’ it before the game even started.  It took him but 30 seconds to fire his first shot, and although it missed, he’d scored a pair by the time the eight minute mark rolled around.  Stuckey would soon commit his second foul, though, and head to the bench for a while.  It was about midway through the second quarter when Stuckey he really went to work.  Andrew Bynum was eating Greg Monroe’s lunch and the Lakers had taken a nine-point lead.  Stuckey stepped up and scored a pair of and-ones, along with a layup that brought the Pistons to within one.  Thanks in large part to Rodney’s offensive spark Detroit had surprisingly taken a four-point lead by the end of the half.

This wasn’t a game during which Stuckey got a whole lot of help, though.  Only one other Piston scored more than 10 points on fewer than 10 shots, and that was Jonas Jerebko, who had exactly 10.  Detroit fell back again as Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol scored easy basket after easy basket.  With the way the Pistons labored for each and every bucket the seven-point lead LA took to the fourth quarter felt more like 10 or 15.

Then Rodney Stuckey did this, among other things…

…and you realized he was having one of those nights.  To make it even clearer that he came to deliver a win, he nailed the go-ahead three… but only to see Kobe Bryant predictably tie the game at the buzzer.

Good thing Rodney had six more left in the chamber… turns out the Bean had just fired his final bullet.

Stuckey’s 34-point performance in the 88-85 battle was pretty damn remarkable.  Mostly because, as I said, he didn’t get much help.  The most impressive of his points–the 11 straight he scored between the end of the 4th and the beginning of OT–came on five consecutive field goals, only one of which was assisted.  The Lakers began to swarm ball handlers with double teams, even discombobulating Stuckey on one possession.  However, he escaped for the big three at the end of regulation (the lone assisted field goal), and later split a pair of defenders on his way to the rack for a key overtime score.  He kinda looked like a giant version of Allen Iverson out there creating off the dribble and diving to the hole.

Stuckey’s ideal role on a winning NBA team?  I’m still not sure.  His role in winning this game, though?  I think his 13-20 shooting in a game that saw the Pistons go sub-40% from the floor says it all.

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