Game Recap/Notes: Game #11, Pistons 104 - Thunder 88. 6-5.
Without Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes decided to have one of his random really awesome games, and the Thunder got nothing other than Westbrook. Really good and important win for the Pistons who remain unbeaten at home and (barely) have avoided giving up 90 points at home this year.
Kind of a strange game for Ish, 11 points on 10 equivalents is fine, but the 3 assists against 3 turnovers is not so good, and yet I don't feel like he played that poorly. I think perhaps part of it is that he spent most of the night loitering on defense against Roberson so it felt like he didn't do as much, (although he still did manage a pair of steals and a block) but either way, he just was not terribly impactful on either end. He did still take a few shots that made me shake my head, but he did alright mostly. He certainly seems to have rebounded after a couple of really bad games.
KCP had a pretty solid game, his 17 points came on 18 equivalents and his 4 assists were against 3 turnovers. So even though there was some decent volume to his offensive game, it was not terribly efficient. Defensively he finally got to take a point guard in Westbrook while Ish moved onto Roberson for most of the game, and KCP generally did alright. Westbrook did still have an incredible night, and KCP did have some real issues guarding him that were not just as simple as “well Westbrook is really good” but I do wonder how it would have gone if Westbrook didn't get a few of the foul calls that he did. Either way, on a night where both Andre and Reggie are not playing, I am ok with KCP sacrificing some efficiency for volume, so it is a good game overall. Although he did have like 4 shots that were totally inexcusable. On the plus side, Special K coined a new phrase which I will steal: “A KCP special” which is when you pull up and miss a transition 3 when there is either a open driving lane or teammate at the hoop, or even better yet, both.
Marcus had a tough matchup as he had to try and score on Andre Roberson on one end, and defend Victor Oladipo on the other end. He did excellent on the defensive end of that bargain, as Oladipo had a miserable game by almost any measure. However Morris also had, probably, his worst offensive game of the year, scoring just 7 points on 13 shots. And the biggest problem was that I felt like he took a few shots that he just shouldn't have taken. Roberson is a wonderful defender, and Tobias has Sabonis on him. I'd much rather Morris have been a bit more passive in the offense this game. Either way, it was a rough game for Morris but not a total loss with the help of a nice defensive effort.
Tobias is fully back into form, scoring 22 points on 17 equivalents, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. It was a complete and efficient game for Tobias on the offensive end, and the defensive end, where he generally held his counterparts in check. I would have liked it if a couple of Morris/KCP's shots had gone to Tobias since he had a few very favorable matchups on the offensive end, but it worked out ok. His jumper was falling and he got inside pretty well too, just a complete game from Tobias on a night when they needed it badly. Also of note, SVG shook things up a bit and had Tobias as the lone starter with the bench mob instead of Morris tonight, and it worked well.
Last year, Baynes had like 5 games where he randomly was awesome. He decided to turn in one of his 5 for this year on a night when he had to play 33 minutes, so I'd say it was a good choice for him. A lot of his offensive success was just laziness/poor play by the Thunder, who routinely left Baynes wide open for fairly easy finishes, allowing him to score 20 points on 15 equivalents. He tacked on 8 rebounds and an assist as well as avoiding letting either of the Thunder big men roasting him, including only comitting a single personal foul in the game! The Thunder, at times, looked like a team on the 2nd night of a back to back, and Baynes was the primary beneficiary of that, but he still hit all the good looks given to him. Excellent game from Baynes on both ends of the floor, possibly his best game as a Piston.
In his 29 minutes, Leuer basically did what is the expectation for him at this point. 8 points on 9 equivalents, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block. And at this point, I have pretty much total confidence in SVG and the Pistons scouting department's ability to find diamonds in the rough from other teams. Leuer has some defensive limitations, and is not shooting great from 3 as of now, but he is an excellent big off the bench. I think in the future it will be more ideal if he is playing a few less minutes but he is versatile enough to justify it. Also, even though it was a short time, he did finish the game at center after Baynes took a shot to the face, and I want to see Leuer at center more.
Beno had an excellent game, 10 points on 7 shots, and he did a lot of his work in the paint when Enes Kanter was on the floor. It was a great show of veteran savvy in the way that Beno was totally unafraid of Kanter inside and he took it to him. His points along with 4 assists were key in the initial run where the Pistons bench matched up with the Thunder bench and gave the Pistons their first substantial lead of the game. Just a wonderful game from Udrih, and I continue to be confused as to why the Heat cut him. He isn't awesome, but dude can clearly still play.
The box score doesn't say much, 3 points on 3 shots, 1 rebound and 1 assist in 14 minutes. But the one stat that does give some insight into how well Stanley played while on the floor was his 3 blocks. He was everywhere on defense and played incredibly hard. I've said this several times now, but I am really impressed with his defensive efforts in the early season, as he appears to have found a fairly happy medium between playing slightly unhinged in order to make the most of his freakish athletic abilities, while still being in control.
Played 12 minutes, 4 points on 6 shots is not really what they are looking for from him offensively, however he took advantage of the Thunder's lack of shooting to be a real defensive factor, with no threatening shooters, Boban could stay in the paint and alter all the shots and end up with 2 blocks, and both of them were huge blocks and it was awesome. Obviously a small sample size, but this game did a good job of showing how impactful he can be defensively when he can stay in the paint.
Hilliard, Ellenson: Both played a single minute in garbage time. Hilliard hit a nice floater.
Good win, puts the Pistons back over .500, and the past road trip feels much better now, even though this game obviously wasn't actually a part of the road trip. I would say that as long as the Pistons can be over .500 when Reggie gets back I'd consider that a success. It was nice to see Tobias get on track, as well as the monster game from Baynes. Any game that Andre misses and the Pistons win is huge, it doesn't have to be pretty.
What do you think? Can KCP ever learn to cut out the bad shots? Is Tobias fully back on track? Is Jon Leuer worth his contract?