Game Recap/Notes: Game #5. Pistons 122 - Timberwolves 101. (3-2)
Great and important win for the Pistons. The Wolves need Jimmy Butler very badly, and the Pistons killed them like they should've. It is important to not get too excited about this game because, once again, without Butler the Wolves are not much good, but overall the signs are good for this team in the early going.
Jackson had a very nice time strolling pleasurably up and down the court for 25 minutes tonight I am sure. He had a quiet night scoring 10 points on 7 equivalents (over 50% true shooting which is nice) with 2 rebounds, 4 assists and no turnovers. He wasn't overly involved in the game because there simply wasn't much need too. The Pistons got out to a big lead in the first half with Ish rolling, and the Timberwolves just kind of decided they didn't want to guard Tobias or Bradley. As a result Reggie took a backseat and watched his teammates dominate the game, passed the ball, and played defense. He isn't an elite defender and never will be, but he has really been solid on that end so far this year, and despite his often passive play tonight, at two separate points when the Wolves were trying to make it interesting, the Pistons went back to the Jackson/Drummond pick and roll in a big way and it delivered. There will be nights where they will have to lean heavily on that, but it is great to see them rolling without it and to see how willing Reggie was to just be a role player for the night.
20 points on 18 equivalents, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 30 minutes. Avery Bradley was in his best form on offense tonight, nailing threes, and cutting to the hoop and getting out in transition. And that Andre/Bradley chemistry that has shown flashes? Yeah that is officially a real thing, and the Wolves had no interest in defending it. Bradley got several buckets and assists from the exact same play over and over again and it was almost comical at a point.
The only downside is that he did struggle a wee bit on defense, but that is understandable given the size difference between him and Wiggins, plus the fact that Wiggins is really freaking good. Regardless, this was a really good game for Bradley and it should really put the Drummond/Bradley handoffs on teams radar going forwards.
Stanley put together his best game of the year in a great effort on both ends of the floor. He finished the night with 15 points on 13 equivalents with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 36 minutes. He was more active getting into the open court and as a cutter, plus he even hit a couple of jump shots. One big thing on display tonight offensively was a good reminder of that, despite the worries about his shooting, it is undisputed that Stanley Johnson can really pass the ball, and you can go a long ways with smart passing and cutting.
Defensively he was very good after some early foul trouble, he caused a lot of problems for the Wolves at several points, and his general activity was just great. A really good two way performance and his best of the year.
Holy crap lol. Tobias Harris scored 34 points on 24 shots with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. I thought he had a couple of blocks too but I guess they didn't register, at the very least he had a couple of really nice rim protections.
The big thing on the night for Tobias was that he rained hot fire from deep to the tune of a 6-8 night on the long ball. And he continues to have absolutely no fear in firing away from deep, in what has been a great start from three for him. He did pull up for a couple more jumpers inside the arc than I would prefer, but it is hard to complain too much when you score like he did. He also did a solid job defensively, not that he had particularly challenging assignments but he did solid regardless. We will see where his 3 point shot ends up being, but he is well on his way towards a big year and the Pistons seem to have heard the calls to have him be more involved.
3-6 from the line, which qualifies him, but once again he had a much better game than the numbers suggest. He finished the night with 15 points on 11 equivalents, 14 rebounds (6 offensive), 4 assists (and several hockey assists) 1 steal, and 1 block in just 28 minutes. In particular, the job he did defensively is not fully shown in the numbers. Towns finished with 23 points on 18 equivalents (not all of those were on Andre FWIW) but he was able to get nothing in the paint against him. Towns didn't want anything to do with bodying up Andre on either end of the floor for most of the game. If you want to know why that matters in a big way even though Towns still scored efficiently then I will explain a moment. Towns is a good passer, and is capable of being a real force when he is roasting people in the post and then starts to draw double teams, then out of that the Wolves offense can start to really hum. Without him (or Butler) getting going inside they don't have much other than Towns popping for jumpers and Wiggins isolations. Andre's ability to keep him from success inside neutered a big part of the Wolves offense.
Also, I talked about it in the Avery Bradley section, but man those two have chemistry and Andre is starting to really realize his powers as a passer. His passing created a lot more points than just his 4 assists, and he is getting more and more daring in threading passes around the floor. There are two in particular that stood out to me, first was one to a cutting Stanley Johnson that he fit in a crazy tight window (Stanley was fouled on his shot) and the other was an outlet pass at the very end of the game. He got a rebound and was about to just hand it to Reggie, but then saw Bradley up the court and fired a great outlet pass, following which Bradley hit Tobias for a dunk.
In the end this was a really great performance from Andre. This season, other than his foul troubles, he is starting to look like the sort of complete player that the Pistons are hoping he can become, and while he still has some rough edges to iron out, he is showing great progress.
Also as a side note, his passing is absolutely going to make a thing Zach Lowe likes at some point this year, so get ready for that.
Three guys getting the honors might be a bit much, but I felt it was acceptable in the end. Ish had not played particularly well so far this year, not passing the ball all that well and taking too many shots and the bench had really suffered for it, he busted out of that tonight against the leaky Timberwolves defense, he scored 2 points on 4 shots, but had 13(!!) assists against 3 turnovers in just 22 minutes of play. As a result, the Pistons bench mob ran the Wolves off the floor and Ish finished the night with a +20 on the night. The Pistons need this version of Ish going forwards, and hopefully this signals the end to his bizzare 4 games where he was passing the ball so poorly.
Back in the rotation and looking good for it. Ellenson finished the night with 14 points on 12 shots with 5 rebounds and an assist, with one huge dunk. His offensive skillset remains truthfully special, he had one play where he pump-faked, put it on the floor, and hit a reverse layup around a KAT contest at the rim. Dude can straight Ball on offense. And while I will need a lot more evidence to not see him as an abject disaster on defense, he was not bad tonight and was on the floor for a couple of stretches where the Pistons put the clamps down in a huge way defensively on his way to a game high +24 on the night.
7 points on 6 equivalents with 9 rebounds in 19 minutes, and even though he didn't get an assist he had a couple nice hockey assists. He ended up being matched against Towns a few different times due to Andre foul trouble but he didn't do too badly. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole Boban thing at this point, but I do like Leuer playing backup center a lot more than backup 4, especially when Tolly or Ellenson are getting the minutes as the backup 4.
5 points on 4 shots in 18 minutes for Galloway. He once again provided a nice spark with a three pointer and good defense, and he is shaping up to be a really nice piece for the Pistons. Like Tobias we will have to wait and see where his long ball stabilizes at, but a great start to the season for Galloway.
Both played 2 minutes at the end following the Wolves waving the white flag. Neither did anything.
Just a really strong performance from the Pistons. Once again, this Wolves team on a back to back was kind of weak but still a strong performance. It was great to seem them get up 34 three pointers on the night and to see Andre going to the hoop without fear of getting fouled. The next couple games are going to be tough, but as long as they can avoid a letdown against the Lakers they should now be able to return to Detroit at .500.
What do you think? How about Tobias?