Game Recap/Notes. Game #23. Pistons 92 - Grizzlies 93. 12-11/ WTF
I am generally a "big picture" type of guy who prefers to look more at how well the team played as opposed to the final outcome. I also am generally the type of guy who has tons of fun watching a good basketball game regardless of who wins. But you know what? Sometimes sports suck. It was a regular season game, there are a lot of good things to take away from this game, and it is in no way some devastating loss in the grand scheme of things. But that sucked. Now on with the recap.
Reggie Jackson: Not quite the awesome bounce back game that we have grown accustomed too from Reggie, but definitely a decent game. 18 points on 18 shots, 7 assists to 2 turnovers. Thats fine. He took a few more 3s than I would have liked (and hit just 1/6 of them) but the one he nailed was so ballsy that Sam Cassell would have blushed. All that being said, he just seemed a bit off. When Gasol hit the bench, the Grizz where playing Zbo as the nominal center. This should have been suicide for the Grizz with Reggie slicing into the lane to an unprotected hoop, but he had trouble with his defenders (which is understandable since Memphis does have several really good ones) and did not do a ton of damage once he got there. It should be noted here, that he allegedly appeared to have tweaked his knee and gotten yet another brace on it. And while it can be hard to judge whether or not a guy has his normal explosiveness and whatnot, it is not hard to tell that Reggie usually does not have trouble standing up. There were like 3 times in the second half where he just fell over while dribbling the ball. I'm going to guess that he was especially bothered by it. On defense he was generally ok but he got a lot of easier assignments (including most of Tony Allen duty) so that is nothing to write home about. So even though it was not a dominating performance by any stretch, it was a pretty good one. Would have been nice if he had not pulled up for a couple of those 3s though.
KCP: I'm going to start by saying it is not full on panic mode for KCP because 1. It is still early(ish) in the season so there is time for his offense to come around. 2. There is literally no other option so it doesn't really matter in the end. But that said, his offensive (in particular his shooting) struggles have reached critical mass for me after a 1/6 night from deep, and yet again failed to score as many points as shots he took. I for the first time, found myself groaning a bit inside every time he got the ball. He is clearly the weak link on offense in the starting lineup, and his struggles are starting to really mess with the Pistons offense. Teams are getting braver about helping off of him, and have, as a result of this, essentially made each of the Jackson/Drummond PnRs a 2 on 4 game. It does not matter how good Jackson/Drummond are, that is not going to work well for them, and right now KCP is doing so poorly that he is not making teams pay for it. And the reality is that he is taking, largely, very easy shots. Either open 3s, or open lanes to the paint. He gets these looks because defenses are forced into giving them up by the stress that Jackson and Drummond put on a defense. This is the situation that KCP is supposed to break out and kill a few teams in a row, but it has not gone even remotely like that. His defense on Mike Conley was still its usual excellence, although I have to mention. 2 straight possessions Tony Allen was being guarded by KCP and Allen scored. I don't know man, his defense is awesome, but he needs to find his shot. There is no other option obviously, so KCP will get time to figure it out, but he has got to do it. Because you cannot have a SG who can't convert wide open shots.
Greater Morris: Quietly had a very nice game. 16 points on 13 shots. Although he did not contribute much on the boards with just 2. And I liked that they gave him the ball at the end for the last possession because Reggie pretty clearly did not have it. He even got a decent look I thought, he just has to put a better shot on. (And I'm not making an excuse for him, if he wants to be a guy the Pistons let take important shots he can't airball those.) But I honestly think that he was underutilized in this game. There was a stretch in the 3rd quarter where Matt Barnes was guarding him, and while Barnes (btw no one likes you Matt. I'm glad Derek Fisher has your wife you prick.)* is a pretty good, and tough, defender. Barnes is a lot smaller than Morris, which is the sort of matchup Morris can kill. Regardless, he had a decent game, even if he blew the last shot and also struggled to defend Jeff Green in the early going.
Ersan Ilyasova: Bit of an off night for Ersan, 3/9 from the field and 1/4 from 3. And while he did not get totally torched by Randolph, he was beaten regularly by him. Ersan did manage a few boards but Randolph beat him up for the most part, and Ersan did not manage to hurt Randolph with his shooting in any meaningful way. That is a hard matchup for Ersan, so I'm not sure if it would be fair to expect much more, but I was hoping for a bit more.
Andre Drummond: Andre showed up in a pretty big way tonight. 18 points on 15 shots, 19 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks. (also 6 turnovers but lets just pretend that didn't happen because I'm sad and want to be happy instead) In the start he got, well, punked by Gasol. I believe the first 3 times he tried to take Gasol to the hoop, Big Spain just sort of swatted the ball away with ease. But in the second half Andre kicked it into gear, hitting the boards harder, and scoring more. It is still a little bit bizzare to me that he just does not really guard guys who can shoot. He always looks so surprised when his guy hits a jump shot, but should not be when it is Marc Gasol. (Or Boogie for instance.) Andre, get up in his grill, we all know you are quick enough to stick with him if he tries to blow by you. But in the end, when Gasol did try to actually go at Drummond, he had very little success. Really the only scoring damage he did was with jumpers. And I will say, that the Drummond/Gasol matchup was super fun to watch. I loved that both coaches allowed a lot of post ups in the second half, allowing them to square off straight up several times. It was an absolute joy to watch. And you know what? I came away thinking Drummond is better. Even though Gasol was a wee bit hurt so there is that. Still though, Andre was excellent tonight.
Stanley Johnson: Meh. 4 points, an assist, a couple rebounds. Just did not seem to do a ton. Outside of one brilliant spin move and bucket in the first half there is nothing he did that really sticks out to me. On either end, which in some ways is actually a good thing. He is progressing to the point where it seems less and less I have specific things that he screwed up. Once again, he should really just stick to the corners with his 3 ball.
Steve Blake: Ok Steve, I don't have to say nice things about you, but I will not say bad things. Tonight at least. He hit several shots and those shots played an important role in the bench not being horrible. Still can't really defend anyone, but he did score. Even hitting a layup(!) which is something that I am honestly not sure he has really done so far this year. Blake is still pretty, um, not good. But when he is able to hit a few shots he is no longer total trash. Ended up playing an important role tonight. So props t you Steve.
Tolly: Rough night. 0/3 from the field. And unfortunately, no matter how many times Blaha says that they were close misses, they were still misses. He needs to hit some shots to be valuble. And he missed them tonight.
Aron Baynes: Ended on a bit of a sour note by missing a couple of absolute bunnies right at the hoop. But the reality is that he had a nice game. Scored a couple buckets, including a very nice buzzer beater. And also threw 2 assists. I'm still curious as to just how effective his jumper is, because he has not shot it at that well a rate this year, but its a small sample. Generally did well.
Darrun Hilliard: Came on and only played 7 minutes. But they were actual, real, honest to god minutes with a full on bench mob. And, did ok. He had a very nice pass for a Baynes jumper as the shot clock expired. And also hit a 3 pointer. On the other end though he was, um, awful. Courtney Lee scored 4 buckets (I believe) while Hilliard was on the floor. And I am honestly surprised he did not score more. HOWEVA, this is what I was talking about. (while I would probably prefer Bullock get this shot for various reasons) Hilliard being able to play 7-10 minutes per game without killing the team are huge. It is the difference between KCP playing 35 minutes and 40+. Even if this is his role, which is a small one, I will be thrilled SVG is going with it.
General: This game was so disappointing. Got some really nice performances, but ended up blowing it. And FWIW, as lucky as the last shot was, the Pistons blew it at the end of the game with several bad possessions. Also, I'm not going to bother with links or anything tonight. I am tired and have to study for Finals lol.