Game Recap/Notes. Game #2: Pistons 92 - Jazz 87. 2-0
Reggie Jackson: Had a really good game. But had some hiccups. He scored really efficiently, and played fantastic defense all on some really overmatched Jazz point guards. BUT, he did have just 4 assists to 4 turnovers. However, the Jazz are a really good defensive team, and this game was an absolute slug fest. With very few assists overall for either team. And in particular, the Jazz are uniquely set up to screw with the Pistons pick and roll. Because Rudy Gobert is so freaking long that he can cover for the lob to Drummond, while not leaving a totally open basket for Jackson. However Drummond's gravity was felt all game, and Gobert leaned towards Drummond almost every time, so Jackson made the right choice by looking to score for himself in those situations. Including the game winner. I cannot say enough that he was stellar defensively tonight. The Jazz have really bad point guards, but they had absolutely no chance against Jackson. Outside of one instance in the first half where Neto hit a 3, the Jazz could not get Jackson with a screen. It is easier to avoid screens when you can duck underneath each one. But he still was impossible to keep off the point guards. It was so hopeless that by the end of the game the Jazz had basically given up on their point guards running the offense. Also, he nailed a huge three towards the end of the game when the Jazz tried to duck under a screen. Which is a huge thing for him to be able to do this year. My only other complaint is that he sometimes becomes a ball stopper. Once again, this game was a slog. But there were a couple times where it would've been nice for him to just pass the ball.
KCP: It is officially ok to start having some cautious optimism that KCP has made a big step. While on paper his 16 points and 5 boards is not that impressive. But he only scored 6 of them behind the line. His drive game is still awkward, and not always that effective, (there were still several times where he looked pretty hopeless when he put the ball on the floor) however there is something there. Even if it is just a little semblance of an inside game. If there is a little something there, it will be huge for him and the team. Also, he played really good defense tonight. Hood and particularly Alec Burks had some success tonight, but from what I could see it was not generally against KCP. And he got a great game sealing block, which must have been clean because the Jazz made no complaints about it. Don't get ahead of yourself, but there might be something there that wasn't there before.
Marcus Morris: Had a really nice game where he played within himself. Those 14 points were efficient, and he got the job of guarding Gordon Hayward for most of the game, and kept him pretty quite. Although for what it is worth, he totally blew it on the layup Hayward hit at the end of the game to put the Jazz up. But that should not overshadow that he played really solid D all night. He also got his first tech of the year. While as a fan I don't mind guys getting a little hot when there is a bad call (although I'm not sure it was that bad a call) and we all know that Marcus will get plenty of techs on him this year. It does not mean I am not going to say that he needs to limit them. In the end he is giving a point to the other team. So hopefully he can have some control over his temper to not get a tech at a bad time. Really nice game for him though.
Ersan Ilyasova: Another nice night. He started off really hot, hitting a couple 3s and a nice stepback. But he got a little dinged while taking a charge from Rudy Gobert. And he did not do a ton after that, so hopefully it is not a bad injury. Tonight was the first sign of the one absolute problem the team has though. When going up against a team with a bully power forward, will they be able to do anything to stop them. Ilyasova is willing to bang down low with anyone, but he is just not big enough to really do much to stop a guy like Favors. And Favors absolutely ate him up. I also think that the Jazz kind of blew it by not force feeding that matchup. I think they could have potentially forced the Pistons to go super big with Drummond and Baynes on the floor together. (which I would not have minded actually because I would like to see how that lineup looks, because there will almost certainly be some time where they will have to give that lineup some time.) Also, holy crap does this guy draw charges. By my unofficial count, he drew 3 tonight. And all of them were really big. Even though he got mashed in the post, he still managed to make some really positive plays on defense with his ability to draw the charge.
Andre Drummond: OMG OMG OMG OMG. Wait for it.............. 8/11 from the free throw line. this puts him at 14/21 for the season. He may not even shoot quite that well this year, but based on my light skimming through some stats, he has never had a stretch where he has shot that well from the line. It is a sign of growth. There is hope for him to shoot 50% from the line. THIS IS GOOD NEWS. Outside of that he was in the odd situation(for him) of being matched up with someone who can match his freakish athleticism/size. And while Gobert gave him some trouble, Drummond had his way plenty, and Gobert was sucked towards Drummond and opened up the lane for Jackson to score points. Including the game winner. Although he missed his first few post ups, they stuck with it and it paid off. He hit some shots and got fouled a bunch. He was too big and strong for Gobert to handle 1 on 1. On defense Drummond was also a beast once again. Creating problems for everyone. He has the same look on that end as KCP through the first two games, that is that he might really be starting to get it. Even though his stats were not quite as eye popping, his game high +14 is because he was the best player on the floor.
Stanley Johnson: Solid effort. You can kind of see the rookie there, his 3/10 from the field is indicative of that he cannot always quite finish off his moves, but he makes the moves. And his aggression drew some fouls to give him 11 points on 10 shots. He also was pretty good on D. It will be interesting all season to see how he is handled, because it is not very often that such a young player with so much potential gets the chance for real minutes on a team that is actually trying to win basketball games. But through 2 games, and in particular tonight, he may not be playing just to let him grow, he is playing because he is a solid role player from the bench.
Anthony Tolliver: Hopefully he was just exhausted from having a kid yesterday. While he brings effort and all sorts of intangibles people love, the reality is that he is as useful as his shooting. He didn't hit a single shot, including missing all 3 free throws after being fouled on a 3. But whatever, it will happen from time to time. Hopefully this is an absolute outlier though.
Steve Blake: Much better matchup for him. The Hawks are designed to kill Blake, not only because both their point guards are really good, but also because they are both really fast. Steve Blake is not fast. Tonight, while going against some point guards who are, eh, not very good, and not very fast. He keeps the offense moving and does "willy veteran" type things. This was important for him because if he had been as bad on D tonight as he had been before it would actually be panic time because the Jazz have no point guards who are hard to stay in front of. So it was good to see. He in particular made a couple really nice plays to draw Gobert away from the hoop to open up an easy dunk for Baynes.
Jodie Meeks: Only played a few minutes, but hurt his foot. It is some sort of fracture. Which means that Reggie Bullock will get some opportunities. However, that is a big blow to the bench. Meeks is a useful player, so hopefully he will not miss too much time.
Aaron Baynes: Had a couple easy dunks set up by Blake, and is a large human on D. I have not been overly impressed but he also didn't do anything that was poor. Which means that he is probably good backup center. Hopefully he can find his shot on his jumpers a little bit better. Because he has missed it in the early going.
Reggie Bullock: Only played 6 minutes so there is not much to say, he will get a chance to show what he can do however with the Meeks injury. He did die on a couple screens in his time tonight though which was not so good. But he also made a really nice extra pass that Tolliver blew the open jumper on. However, we get our wish to see if he can really play or not.
General: This was an awesome win. The Jazz played exactly the type of game that they want to play, and the Pistons just beat them at it. I think the Jazz did not feed Favors enough but other than that, there was no obvious thing that the Jazz could have done that would poke holes in the Pistons play. Andre Drummond is also a freaking beast. Also, the forwards on the team of Ersan, Morris, and Johnson are going to be huge fan favorites very quickly I think. Ersan draws charges and is from Turkey, Morris plays hero ball and is good at it and sports a awesome beard, he also gets Teed up when a bad foul call is made. Stanley is so clearly a no nonsense lunch pail type. (no tattoos, no sleeves or tights or anything. Shit his shorts are even pretty short.) And all three of them are tuff as nails. They could form an unlikely really great unit together.
And the last thing, is that I think tonight is probably a better indicator of how the bench will be. As in I do not think the bench will be some huge issue this year, even before Brandon Jennings comes back. This will depend slightly on how long Meeks is gone, but unless another injury is sustained the bench should be just fine. Not world beaters by any stretch, but there are some feisty defenders on the bench and guys who can shoot. They will be ok.
What do you think of the game? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!
Programming note: I might miss the friday game to go see my old high school football team in the playoffs. Still haven't decided yet though.