Game Recap/Notes: Game #7. Pistons 92 - Kings 101. 5-2
Welp. Sometimes you catch a team on the wrong night. If you read my scouting report I said the things that could go wrong were 1. Rudy Gay is unstoppable. 2. The team meeting or whatever causes everyone (mostly cousins) to come out on a freaking mission. 3. Rondo is on his game and hits all sorts of passes. And all three of those things happened, and the Pistons played like crap on top of that. Just was not the Pistons night, bad loss.
Reggie Jackson: I don't know for sure if he was still bothered at all by his thigh injury from the Golden State game, (there was no noticeable limp or anything that I could see at least.) but he had a bad game and was pretty disappointing as such. He only scored 13 points (I'm not counting the 3 with like 5 seconds left) and took a lot of shots to get there. He could not throw it in the ocean with his ankles in the water. And he only had 3 assists (also only 2 turnovers.) Which would suggest, and rightfully so, that he did not have the ball in his hands quite as much as he usually does. This is the reason that I would guess he may have been at least slightly limited due to being hurt still. But who knows for sure. On defense he put in his first noticeably bad performance of the year. I am not sure why, but he picked this game for the one to desperately fight over every screen he came across. Which is bizarre. Rondo can't shoot. And yet here is Reggie Jackson, a guy so fond of ducking under screens that he does it against the best shooters on earth, fighting over top of them. This allowed Rondo to get into his element. Working with numbers going towards the hoop. I honestly think that Reggie's bad D had more to do with Rondo's big night than anything else, because when the Pistons did duck under screens Rondo suddenly looked not very good, and the Kings struggled to get much of anything going. I hope that this decision was Reggie being stupid for some reason, and not SVG. Because even if Reggie is a little slowed because he is hurt, there is no reason do ever not duck under a screen against Rondo. That was weird. Rondo has fallen a lot the past few years, but he can still tear you apart with expert passing if you let him. And the Pistons did just that. Although FWIW once the ball started whipping around following a double team of Cousins, Reggie several times made really good rotations. But still not good overall. Basically he struggled to find his shot and bizarrely played stupid defense on Rondo. Just based off of that I would guess he was still a little bothered by his thigh, but even so. He struggled to deal with the length of the Kings.
KCP: Played a really good game and played a ton. (40 minutes) His defense was once again stellar, even if it was marred by several ticky tack fouls that I didn't really agree with. On offense he made a couple nice plays and also a couple bad ones. But he was ok there. He does appear to be settling into a spot of destroyer on defense and killer role player on offense. He has been super encouraging all year and tonight was no exception. Even if he did not play a great game. But he hit a couple threes, and also got inside for some buckets and had a couple and 1s. I would have liked to see what he could have done guarding Gay earlier in the game though. It would have been a hard matchup for him since Gay is so much bigger, but I still would have liked to see how he would've done.
Greater Morris: A bit of an odd but still pretty good game for Morris. On one hand he ends up getting the bulk of the Rudy Gay assignment, which went poorly for Morris. (more on this in just a bit) But he had 9 boards, and 5(!) steals. He also had a couple of bad (and uncharacteristic) turnovers. He scored most of his points on a mismatch with Rondo that the Kings seemed willing to give up. And I am pretty disappointed they did not attack that more. Not only is Morris a lot taller and stronger than Rondo, it was pretty clear that Rondo was not even quick enough to stay in front of Morris. This should have been a bigger night for him. But it was not, although he still did end up with a +6. (the only starter to end up positive)
Ersan Ilyasova: Only played 17 minutes. If anyone has hear SVG give any reason as to why Ersan plays so little please let me know. Although he was in a bad way on defense tonight, getting some of the Rudy Gay blame, while also ending up guarding Boogie quite a bit. Those are both really hard covers for him, but he still could quite clearly do nothing against either. BUT he did give some real trouble to the Kings on the other end as they lost him several times and he got WIDE open shots. But in the end he only played a little bit so he did not have a huge effect on the game.
Andre Drummond: Another bizarre defensive strategy used that I hope was just Andre being stupid and not SVG. Treating Boogie as though he is just another Center in the first half. They gave him all kinds of space to shoot, and he killed them on it. And while 4/5 from 3 won't happen that often, if you give him that much room to shoot he will kill you. I get that Andre should be near the hoop because that is where he is best, but you have to know who you are guarding. Although on the filp side. Cousins never really even tried to get anything inside against Dre. And the one time in the game, in the 4th quarter, where Boogie tried a straight up post up he got eaten up by Drummond. So overall this should be a positive thing, Boogie is legit the most skilled center (as far as shooting, ball handling, etc.) in basketball. And he is uniquely gifted to make Dre choose between the paint or to actually guard his guy. Andre struggled on offense tonight, and his hook was just not falling. Although it should be noted that even on an off night, he still finished with 17 boards. 14 efficient points. I personally would still take Drummond right now because Drummond is a better defender, but Boogie won this battle tonight. I think this was the first time all season where it was clear that Drummond was not the best player on the floor. And that is the biggest reason that the Pistons lost. They need him to be the best guy every night. But Boogie got him tonight. Still a good game for Drummond though.
Stanley Johnson: 3 straight good games for Johnson. His stats may not be as good as against the Warriors, but this is the kind of play we want out of him. Come on, play some D, and attack the freaking hoop. His ability to penetrate into the paint and be a big strong body once he gets there is a legit weapon, and right now his shooting/everything else on offense appear to be a bit behind his ability to cause havoc in the paint. So for now, he has to keep attacking. Obviously some 3s (including the one he air balled and audibly yelled "fuck!" after) are so open that they cannot be passed up. But he has got to focus mostly on attacking the paint and playing hard on D. Good things happen when you do that, even if he is still to young to always succeed in those areas.
Tolly: Came on and shot the Pistons back into the game with 3 straight hits. And then missed his remaining 2 shots. He kept up all the try hard things that he does, and played pretty good D. But mostly he did all the things he is supposed to do.
Steve Blake: I know that he, along with Morris and Baynes, are the only guys on the team to go positive. (all three went +6) And he actually appears to have found his shot. But I still wish Dinwiddie was playing. Blake is not about to get quick enough to guard anyone any time soon. And even if he has found his shot. He is a literal non-threat when he goes into the lane. It was almost sad to see how little the Kings defenders cared when Blake was in the paint. I don't know man. Although if he is going to play anyways, him hitting a few shots is a good sign, and if he can regain his stroke it will make him way more useful.
Aaron Baynes: Meh. Didn't do a ton on either end. he went 1/3 from the field. I still don't know how much I like him. It will probably take a game where Andre gets into bad foul trouble to find out exactly how good Baynes is. But until then if he keeps up being able to score a bucket here and there and be freaking huge on D. He is a perfectly acceptable backup center.
General: The defensive game plan was bad. The strategy of "Let Boogie shoot but make sure Rondo does not get open" was not the right one. Although they did improve on this in the second half. Playing either Tolly/Ersan on Boogie and just sending Drummond on the double team, and when Cousins throws the pass, just totally ignore Rondo. Which they did to great effect. I am a little curious why the team did not do this from the start and why they stopped at the end of the game. (that thing with Rondo is how he manages to still hurt the offense at times despite being such a brilliant passer/finisher in case you were wondering. The Pistons could double team Cousins and not get punished for it since Rondo can't shoot.) And with Gay, even though he was obviously hot. Guys like him figure to be the biggest weakness of the team all year, any guy who is too big for KCP but not big enough for Drummond will cause the team trouble. Hopefully Stanley will become the guy to deal with these types of scorers but he is a NBA baby and will take some time. And Ersan, Morris, and Tolly are all hard workers who will do their due diligence. But none are great one on one defenders. So when a guy like Gay gets hot there is really nothing they can do to stop it. This was a bad loss, but mostly it just was not the Pistons night. The Kinds played well and also hit a ton of shots, while the Pistons did some stupid stuff to give up said shots. What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!
P.S. Dear Kings people. And just generally for all people. I obviously hit a nerve with my scouting report. So much so that when I went to your sub to invite you to put in your thoughts I got such a negative reaction that I simply deleted the invitation. I apologize that I came off as the dick weed going "durr durr kings suck pistons good." Most of us over here also vote for the Lions in some capacity, so we know what it is like to be the butt of all the jokes. Yes I did poke some fun at your team, but it was not meant as anything more than that. When I asked for your input on the game I was actually wanting to hear what you thought. That stupid message at the end of all of my posts? I actually mean that, I think that the world has a problem in that we are not in the information age but rather the affirmation age. The internet in particular is full of far too many circle jerks. I was hoping to actually get some opposing viewpoints from people who watched the Kings more than me so that us Pistons fans could actually learn something and then in turn you Kings fans could learn something. That is the whole point of these recaps and precaps. I want to start a real conversation, not just have everything be a bunch of yelling. I am sorry I came off as a dick to you because I actually try very hard not to do so. And no I am not just saying this because the Pistons lost. I sent a message to the/r/kingsmods earlier this afternoon with an apology for coming off as such a dick. I hope next time the Pistons and Kings play you would all be more willing to join in the conversation. Because there is so much we can all learn from talking to each other. And yeah this is long and I care more about it than I should. But I do care. Sorry to come off as a dick, I honestly just wanted your opinion. And I think the folks over here can attest to that I am always just trying to start a conversation.
Edit: The Pistons are not 5-2, they are 5-3. And this is game #8. All these late night games are getting to me lol.