Game Recap/Notes: Game #13. Pistons 95 - Wizards 97. 7-6
Equally weird and frustrating game tonight. Had a chance to steal a game at the end that they really probably should not have won anyways. But still would've been nice to steal. But FWIW there is some real irony in the fact that the NBA made a change to its scheduling to lessen back to backs and 3 in 4 nights and whatnot. And that SVG was one of the biggest voices for this change, and yet the Pistons still get stuck with the most back to backs in the NBA. But whatever, they could have won, and they didn't.
Reggie Jackson: Had a good game overall, 20 points on 18 shots, with 9 assists. But he also had 6 turnovers to go with it. It would be nice to see him avoid so many turnovers obviously, and he does need to make better decisions with the ball, but he is asked to do so much offensively that you will take those numbers. Particularly coming on a night when Andre was so clearly out of it. The thing he MUST improve on is quick passes to the right guys out of the PnR. Because between him and Drummond, they can kill literally anyone in basketball who tries to defend it straight up. It is literally impossible to guard a Jackson/Drummond PnR with two guys. But then when teams collapse the extra guy into the paint in order to keep Jackson from the hoop and contest a lob, Jackson is not making quick enough passes out to the perimeter to take advantage of the man advantage. But this is something that he should, in theory, learn as things come along. Last year most people tried to deal with the Pistons dynamic duo with 2 men every game. This year people are more prepared for it so they have a lot more things up their sleeves to stop it. And Jackson figuring out how to do his thing and be aggresive getting to the hoop and putting enormous pressure on opposing defenses, while still being able to make crisp passes back outside when he does not have the hoop, will be one of the big steps for this team to reach the next level. And he will likely have to learn it sooner rather than later. It seems pretty clear to me that by far the most effective way to counter the Jackson/Drummond PnR is to throw the extra guy in and make the Pistons perform a crisp passing sequence, because they are not quite quick enough yet to get the wide open looks all the time. But once the Pistons are quick enough for that, this team, as in these players currently here. Could blitz the league. Also in some good feelings, Jackson actually pretty clearly outplayed Wall in most facets of the game. Wall made some really nice plays obviously, but after a quick start to the game, he went silent. (I think he only had like 1 bucket and 2 assists after the 1st quarter or something like that.) And with Jackson's turnovers, I don't even mind him having a pretty high turnover rate, I mind some of the careless ones. Like he had a couple of times where he tried to throw some really ill advised full court lobs to Drummond. Like, just don't do those two passes and he has 9 assists and 4 turnovers. But once again, theoretically cutting out those sorts of plays will come with time.
KCP: FINALLY found his 3 point shot going 4/7 from deep, he also put in a couple buckets inside as well. And most importantly, he freaking destroyed Bradley Beal. And while Beal was (probably) a bit limited by being hurt. 7 points on 8 shots and literally no other offensive stats, that is as close to a shutout as you can get in the NBA. Although, oddly he had the lowest +/- of the starters with just +5. (uugggghhhh Bench why you suck so bad.) Overall though I'd say this was a really good performance from KCP. Even if Beal was a hampered, he had almost no impact on the game, and this is a guy who has averaged 20 points per game this year. And it was SOOOOO nice to see him hit a few 3s.
MARCUS-MUTHA-FUCKIN-GREATER-MORRIS: My fandom of Morris is pretty well documented at this point, but I freaking love this guy. When his shot is falling he can be the best guy on the court. Although he (badly) missed a game winner, but that would've been pretty close to a miracle if he had hit that. He scored on his goofy mid range game, had 9 boards, including a grown man offensive board that he put in for a bucket. Even throwing in 4 assists. Like I was super high on him coming into the year and I have still been hugely impressed by him. His reputation was that of a hot headed, inefficient, lazy(ish), chucker. And here he is, second night of a back to back, working his freaking ass off, getting buckets, battling for rebounds, and throwing smart passes. And he is not just a smart passer, but he is a willing one, and has been all year. It will be interesting to see over his time here, how much of his effort is tied to the fact that he is getting tons of playing time and being allowed to get plenty of chances to do his thing in the midrange.Because if he is actually just like this, then he either had an epiphany, or Suns fans are completely off their rocker. (And I cannot say that I watched enough of Marcus Morris before this year to say which one it is.)
Ersan Ilyasova: Another good game for Ersan, putting up 18 points. And with being matched up against Humphries for most of the game meant that his defensive limitations were not at all an issue. Obviously he won't shoot this well all year, but I like to see him be a little bit more aggresive in looking for his shot, especially shooting over small guys. Because he is really the only guy who opposing teams can try and hide a bad defender on. So if he can punish teams for that he becomes way more valuable. He also managed a couple of hard nosed offensive rebounds and put backs down the stretch. He won't shoot like this every night, but if this version of Ersan is the guy who shows up more often than not, then the Pistons legit have a starting 5 that can play with anyone. The main reason being what I said just a bit ago. With Ersan showing some aggression, there is no place to hide a bad defender. If opponents have a bad defender anywhere, the Pistons can find it and hurt them. Still a good game for him. Also brace yourself, the good vibes are ending with Ersan.
Andre Drummond: Man, this was uh. Not a good game for him. Andre fell short of a double double for the first time this season, and the main reason for his paltry 8 points is because he did not get a single offensive board. By the end of the game, when it became clear that he was out of it tonight is when Morris and Ersan started really hitting the offensive boards hard. And it should be noted, it was not as though Drummond was blatantly not playing hard. Just that he clearly did not have his usual umph. Which will happen on some nights. Just hopefully it doesn't happen again for a while. Even in this state though, he still ate up 13 defensive boards, had a couple good buckets, and also played ok defense. I would guess this is the first time this season that the Pistons were outscored in the paint, and certainly the biggest difference. And that is the biggest sign that he was off. He owns the paint every single game. And did not tonight. (although FWIW a lot of those points where scored by Nene and a lot of those were not on Drummond. Point still stands though, he was off tonight.)
Spencer Dinwiddie: Dinwiddie was not all that good tonight, but he was still clearly the best guy off the bench. Although FWIW that is not just because the bench freaking sucks. Dinwiddie legit made some really nice plays. He had a sweet dunk and also got to the line for a few shots. Also created a few good looks. If he was playing with a few other guys who were better he could put up better numbers consistently though I think. He is (currently at least, idk if this will be something that changes as he improves or not.) able to take advantage of breakdowns in the defense into slice into the lane and make plays once he gets there. But he is not really good enough to create the initial breakdowns on his own with any consistency. He needs a good screen, a drive by someone else and him receive a kick, that sort of thing. If he has a crease to hit he is really good.He makes it so that the bench is capable of not getting killed EVERY possession. But he is not good enough to solve the issues on his own. And he also made a couple of questionable plays, but was still ok.
Stanley Johnson: Had a couple of nice buckets, missed all 3 of his 3s. And for some reason I literally have no memory of him playing defense so I guess that means he did ok. He did manage to get lost a couple of times in transition for easy buckets by the Wizards I suppose (this is also true for Dinwiddie.) He is just putting in his time, and if he can manage to avoid doing really dumb stuff while on the floor he is ok. I wish he would play more minutes consistently, but whatever I suppose. Anthony Tolliver: Tolly has to find his jumper back. He is hesitating more than usual to let it go, and he missed his only shot. (which was a 2 pointer after a pump and drive.) He does the whole effort thing, but he is just not good enough to survive on his effort plays. He is not all that good a passer, he is literally totally useless at creating shots for himself or others, and his defense and rebounding top out at "pesky." If he cannot shoot then he is not a useful NBA player. Plain and simple. I have faith he will find his shot at some point, but until it happens the bench mob will put in more games like this.
Aron Baynes: Actually played ok. Hit a couple of shots, one of them was a midranger too. But he also stunk it up in his transition defense and also everything else on defense. He is not the first guy who Nene has seemingly randomly decided to channel the ghost of Hakeem against, but he did little to stop it. Nene ate him up, and the crazy efficiency of Nene was probably the biggest outlier tonight to allow the Wizards to win despite both Wall and Beal being mostly non-factors. Like 18 points is not that crazy, but 9/10 from the floor is. Once again, Nene has done this shit his whole career, where he is not good for long stretches then suddenly decides to become the destroyer of worlds. But Baynes needed to do more.
Reggie Bullock: Did very little of note. He missed a couple open jumpers, played some ok defense, also got lost in transition. I still wish SVG would give him more minutes, but then again, Bullock has hit like a single shot in the regular season, so I can't be all that angry about his minutes. Please find your shot Reggie.
General: This game was weird and frustrating, because the Pistons backcourt BADLY outplayed their Washington counterparts. Which means that The Pistons should have easily won the game. And yet they were lucky to even have a chance at the end of the game. While obviously you don't really plan on Nene going off, but he does that from time to time. Mostly I think Dre just didn't have it tonight. If he had turned up at the end of this game I think the Pistons would have won this game with some ease, but he never did. Part of that is Gortat being a good player, but a lot of that is on Drummond. This is the burden for him really, when you show that you are clearly capable of being the best center in basketball by a fair margin, you don't get to complain that the other guy was too good. You are supposed to be the guy who is just way too good. But, another loss on the second night of a back to back against a team that was rested. Not to blame the loss on that, but thats kind of how it goes in the NBA a lot. Frustrating game, but it was good to see KCP and Morris appear to come out of their respective shooting funks a bit.
What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!