Game Recap/Notes: Game #10. Pistons 85 - Bad LA team 97. 5-5
This is easily the worst loss of the season for the Pistons. And the only one that is truly a bad loss. And look, this is exactly the type of setup for a game where you lose to a team you shouldn't. Very end of a long road and hard road trip. Second night of a back to back. (with the other team coming off a day off) But that does not change the fact that the Pistons just managed to score 85 points on a horrible defensive team. This is one that there is no excuse for. I was so frustrated at the end of the game I had to go take a shower and make a sandwich before starting the recap.
Reggie Jackson: Reggie has had some games this year where he has looked awesome, he has also had a couple where he struggled. This was neither of those, he was legitimately bad tonight. Before going off on him I'm going to play a little devils advocate for him though. First, he has looked not quite right after getting hurt against Golden State, obviously he is ok enough to be playing, but there is a chance that he is still hurt a bit from that. And it often happens where a guy struggles a bunch and then you find out later that he was playing hurt. Second, he is asked to do a TON on offense for this team. It is not quite the same and it is not as obvious, but it is kind of similar to LeBron in the finals. He literally is never on the floor with another person capable of making consistent plays for others. (the backup PGs are capable(ish) but he obviously does not play with them.) Seriously, a few of the other guys have some ability to get a shot for themselves on occasion. But if there is ever going to be a good offensive set going, it will start with Jackson. When you have such a huge load it will sometimes go really poorly. Now that I have played devils advocate though, holy crap he was bad tonight. And the turnovers are officially a problem. He obviously might still just sort of work his way through it, but it is a problem. He is only averaging a little over 5 assists per game compared to a little over 4 turnovers per game. That is REALLY bad. And while it is a legitimate thing to say that he has a lot of turnovers because he is asked to create so much of the offense, but that should also result in a ton of assists. But it has not. In this game specifically, he just made a bunch of really poor decisions. That combined with Dinwiddie playing out of his freaking mind ended up with Jackson on the bench to close the game. (which I'm not so sure about but more on that later.) If he is hurt then that is one thing, but if he is not, then this is a horrible performance. The Lakers freaking suck on defense, and they are awful at creating turnovers. This loss is not all on him (no game is decided by one dude obviously) but a lot of it comes on him. He can't have games like this. And the same goes for Drummond (not that Drummond had a bad game tonight). There are some pretty good players on this team, but Drummond and Jackson are easily the best players. Both of them need to be on their games for this team to win games most nights. If one is off then the team will probably lose. It is that simple.
KCP: He got off to a pretty decent start, but that went away pretty quickly. 10 points on 15 shots is, uh, wow. That is really bad. He also looked a bit slow on D, he was still very good, but a bit slow. He is still not bad to have on the floor since he plays good defense, but he also gets a lot of the blame for the bad offensive showing. But FWIW these sorts of games were the killers for him last year because they happened quite a lot, and (I think) this is the only game so far this year where he was so clearly off with his shot. And it will happen occasionally. But still, he was not very good tonight.
Greater Morris: ugh. he also gets some blame for the poor offensive showing tonight. 7 points on 12 shots is pretty bad. I was surprised/dissapointed they did not attack with him a little more when Kobe got switched onto him, because Kobe can't guard anyone anymore. But yeah, it was a rough night for him. Although like KCP, he still played some solid D and hit the boards/other hustle type things hard. But when he scores this poorly he is not a very useful player. Although FWIW he usually takes a few more shots. (I believe that 2 or 3 of his shots were prayers at the end of the game) However, I still really love this guy for the team. He brings an edge and toughness. Even when he is not actually that useful a player when his shot is off, he brings some good things to the table. (much like KCP in that regard, even if their "good attitude" things are of completely different nature.) (It should also be noted that at +4 he had the best +/- on the team)
Ersan Ilyasova: Fresh off a really good game, Ersan laid a bit of a dud on offense, scoring just 6 points on 10 shots, which is really bad. (I'm starting to detect a pattern here.) Although he did draw, 2(?) offensive fouls and overall did a pretty decent job on D. Once again he brought some useful things, but he just could not put it in the bucket tonight. (Another pattern there.)
Andre Drummond: So I may have underestimated Roy Hibbert just a wee bit. Even if he is a bad rebounder, he is freaking huge. Drummond had a pretty solid game, which, if you think about it, is just a sign of how stupid good Andre is, when a 17/17 night is just "pretty solid." But with everyone shooting so poorly they really needed him to turn up for a big game, but the Lakers largely managed to keep him off the offensive boards. They did this with a combination of Roy Hibbert being large, and also throwing crazy amounts of guys into the paint to box him out. If teams keep doing that, Andre has got to start working on his Tyson-Chandler-Tip-Outs, but even so, he had a good game. Although I will say that I would like to see him do better against the small ball. There several times that the Lakers had no center in the game. Andre has got to freaking kill those units. But once again, it is hard to complain about a game where you score 17 points and grab 17 boards.
SPENCER-MUTHA-FUKIN-DINWIDDIE: FREE. SVG finally freed the Mayor, and it lead to great results. Dinwiddie seemed to be the only guy who realized he was playing the freaking Lakers and that the Lakers can't really play any defense at all. He attacked the hoop, hit some hard layups, got fouled a few times, and even nailed a couple jumpers. He also got 4 assists and was doing a nice job of setting up teammates. He is not a super lock down defender, he still gets killed on screens sometimes and other things that happen to young guys on D. But time and time again he used his speed and length to make up for it to still contest shots. And look, he is obviously not going to be this good every night, but this is far and away the best performance by the backup PG all season. Like not even close, Blake had no games near this good. And still the main thing for me is that Dinwiddie is developing. I think Blake should only be playing if he is markedly better than Dinwiddie, it also just so happens that I actually think Dinwiddie is probably better than Blake. Hopefully Dinwiddie has got a hold on the backup PG so we do not need to endure watching Steve Blake play defense ever again. (Spencer was also the only player other than Greater Morris to go positive tonight with a +1)
Tolly: I suppose it seems like a cop out, but Tolly does what Tolly does. He comes on, shoots some 3s, plays really hard, and thats about it. Tonight those 3s didn't fall very much (1/6 from the field) but that is hardly important. Some nights he will hit them and some nights he won't. He was just fine tonight. Still been the Pistons most solid bench guy so far this year.
Stanley Johnson: Did not play much tonight (just 16 minutes) but he was ok in that time. He made a couple decent defensive and offensive plays. I still wish he would just get freaking tunnel vision every time he goes to the hoop though. Like just decide that he is not going to stop. He is going to either get to the rim or die trying. Because when he does that it usually ends up in a positive basketball play. But he did have a nice steal to a breakaway dunk. He still has a ton of shaping up to do, but he has his flashes of looking really good. So that is cool.
Reggie Bullock: Got his second chance, and he was much better this time. He hit one 3, and played like a guy with his butt on fire everywhere else. He did not do a ton to affect the game, but that is a positive for him. He needs to be able to come in and not get killed for a few minutes to give KCP a breather. He also made a really nice defensive play that lead to the most foreseeable blown layup ever. (who else saw that coming?) But he did make the nice defensive play. He also made a couple nice passes. It is a small sample size obviously, but combined with preseason, he seems like he has a super basketball IQ. He regularly just makes smart plays. I hope SVG keeps him in the rotation, even if it is in very limited minutes. There is some signs that he might actually be a good player.
Aaron Baynes: Only played 7 minutes, but I am starting to really like him. He seemed like the only guy other than Dinwiddie who realized that the Lakers suck at defense. He went 4/5 from the field, and other than his one miss which was a shot clock running out chuck, he took super easy shots. He is not, and never will be some hub o post up offense. But he is huge and has good touch. So if he gets a guy on him who he can just back down right to the hoop he has good enough touch to put it in every time. I like that. He's starting to shape up a bit.
General: The biggest reason the Pistons lost this game is because Reggie Jackson was just off in every way, and they just could not hit anything. There was a point in the game (I believe either late 3rd or early 4th quarter) where Andre and Ersan missed like 4 point blank put backs right in a row, and I thought to myself, "How many creative ways can the Pistons figure out to miss easy shots tonight." And that was a big thing. They got a lot of the shots they wanted, just missed them. But as I said at the beginning of the recap and also in my precap. There is no good reason to lose to a team as bad as the Lakers. The Pistons have no one to blame but themselves. With the rotation, I liked bringing Bullock back in, he obviously crapped the bed the first time he got some minutes, but I wish SVG had not cut him out so quick. He might be a decent player and I want to see if he is or not. Keep finding him some minutes each game. Obviously I am also a huge fan of going to Dinwiddie as backup PG, I've been going for that since the freaking preseason. Although I am not sure how I feel about benching Jackson at the end of the game. It might have some sort of larger purpose as a lesson teacher, and is exactly the type of thing SVG can and does do. He is a players coach, and Dinwiddie was having a awesome game and Reggie was having a crappy one, so SVG just stuck with Dinwiddie. But I still have to think that the teams best chance for a comeback would have been Jackson pulling it together. Even when Dinwiddie is having this really good game, he cannot score the same way that Reggie can. But then again, if this serves as a way to kick Reggie's ass a little to get him to stop doing stupid stuff all the time on the court then I will take that.
One thing I would say not to do? Panic. Not yet at least. This loss puts a real damper on it, but if you had told me the Pistons were 5-5 after their brutal first 10 games, I would be very ok with that. There are a lot of ways in which the team has to improve, but this is not a lost cause by any stretch. I would expect a big game from Jackson against the Cavs, just a hunch.
P.S. In addition to a scouting report on the Cavs, I am going to (hopefully I have time) do a recap and overlook of the season so far. 10 games in is a good number for that, and then I think I will keep that as a regular thing throughout the season.
What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!