Game Recap/Notes: Game #16. Pistons 100 - Timberwolves 97. (11-5)
Excellent win in many ways. The Pistons fought back against a good team on the road, they bounced back from a terrible loss, and they looked alright doing it. Also a super fun game.
I usually try to resist this. The end of the game doesn't actually matter more than the rest of the game does, and it isn't like Jackson had a super game. He was efficient with 16 points on 12 equivalents with 8 assists and 4 turnovers in 29 minutes, which is a fine line to finish with but nothing remarkable. But, come on. His finish to the game was incredible, and is the second time this year where he has emphatically reminded everyone that just because he is taking more of a backseat in the offense this year, doesn't mean that he couldn't still put up the numbers he did a couple of years ago. He ran the offense, got himself some real tough buckets, found others with great passes, and generally carried the Pistons through the finish line. This was particularly great to see given how badly he played down the stretch against the Pacers.
Other than his brilliant finish he was have a pretty mediocre game. He struggled (along with almost everyone else) to keep the Wolves out of the paint a lot, and struggled to get much rhythm going for himself or others on offense, fortunately the last half of the 4th quarter happened.
Bradley struggles defensively against a team like the Wolves because of how much size they have on the wings, but he still made his presence felt with 3 steals and doing his usual super energetic and tough defensive play even if it wasn't as potent as it often is. Offensively he had a really good, even-keeled game with 18 points on 14 shots with an assist in 34 minutes of play including a clutch three pointer. Not a particularly great game for Bradley, but a very good one regarldess, this game is honestly the place where the upgrade to him from KCP comes. KCP would have nights where he was awesome, but would often be bad or mediocre in between the awesome and always struggled to have nights like this where he wasn't awesome, just really good.
Johnson did not have as good a defensive impact as the Pistons probably hoped, as the Timberwolves seemed generally fine to seek out whichever one of their wing scorer duo (Butler/Wiggins) didn't have Johnson on them for a play and go with them, but he still did his job fully and it was represented with 38 minutes of play. He finished with 10 points on 14 equivalents with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. He didn't have a great game, but he largely did his job and looked to be himself, and against a team like the Timberwolves his physical defense is especially important for this Pistons team.
Harris struggled a bit tonight, which is understandable given the sort of defensive length the Wolves have, but he did a good job of staying aggressive and keeping at it. He finished the game with 18 points on 18 equivalents with 9 rebounds, an assist, and a pair of steals in 37 minutes. As a side note, he may have begun his slide down on his long ball after a 2 for 7 in this game.
I liked that the Pistons seem to be trying to get Harris looks more that are not just spot up looks the last couple of games, before it became a disaster it was something I really liked about the Pacers game. He has had times where he becomes an afterthought in the offense and they seem to be fighting to keep that from happening, even if that means a few more forced hard shots and some decreased efficiency for Harris, I am ok with it.
He gets an automatic qualifier by going 4 of 5 from the line tonight, but he would've gotten the honors anyways. 20 points on 17 equivalents with 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and a pair of blocks in 33 minutes is more than enough. He continues his dominance of Karl-Athony Towns in the paint, and the Timberwolves struggled to keep him away from the hoop the entire night. One thing that was interesting tonight, which I also kind of liked, was that they often tried to have Drummond guard Taj Gibson since Gibson is less perimeter oriented than KAT is. There was also a brief scare when Drummond left the game clutching his elbow on what appeared to be a (largely) non-contact injury, after a bit of a sit though he came back and looked fine.
Regardless, Drummond was right there with Jimmy Butler as the best player on the floor in this game, and that is starting to be true a lot of nights for Drummond which is what the Pistons need from him. Obviously he can't dominate every team like he does the Timberwolves since not every team has a shooting guard for a center, but it is great to see him dominate when he should.
There was a short stretch of uneven play from Ish, but mostly this was a really good night for him. The bench mob really won the Pistons the game by outplaying the Wolves bench by a fair margin, and as usual that good play started with Ish. Smith finished with 9 points on 7 shots with 5 assists in 19 minutes of work, he did his usual thing by pushing the pace and running like a mad-man. He really energized the Pistons and begun the work of getting back into the game in the 4th quarter that Reggie Jackson so emphatically finished. Hopefully this signals that he is bounced comfortably back from a couple of games that were a bit uneven for him.
Moreland got a little more time than probably planned with the Drummond elbow thing, but he didn't do a whole lot of note. In 15 minutes he had 3 rebounds and a (cool chase down) block. He seemed to do the right things on defense and do his normal hustle so he played fine, just nothing really of note.
11 minutes, 7 points on 5 equivalents. Dude just keeps plugging along, and his long ball is officially on track. Tolliver is firmly cemented as a super important guy off the bench and has been an absolute blessing in his second go-around with this team.
Getting some minutes in the second half, Bullock played 10 minutes for a little extra length on defense as SVG (probably correctly) figured that Kennard wasn't a great option to guard Butler or Wiggins. Bullock didn't record any stats though and I doubt this game was anything to indicate that SVG is going to move away from Kennard.
Also 10 minutes of work. Hit a couple of free throws, didn't really do anything else. Once again, I doubt this was a “Pull Kennard” thing as much as it was a “Lets not find out what color he leaves behind as a skid mark behind a Jimmy Butler drive.”
Ditto for Galloway. Only 4 minutes, I think SVG just decided they needed more size so in the second half he used a lot of Johnson and threw Bullock in. Galloway didn't do anything of note.
When it was looking bad, I was all set to talk about why this game is actually why it hurt so much to lose the Pacers game. It is entirely understandable that the Pisotns lose to the Bucks and Timberwolves in close games, both are good teams and the Pistons were on the road. Quite frankly even if the Pistons had lost this game I wouldn't have been in a big fuss about it, but in order to be ok with sometimes losing close games to good teams you can't totally blow the games against not so good teams. Fortunately the Pistons bounced back and stole a game from a good team, and now the Pistons won't have to see the Timberwolves again this year.
What do you think? How about Andre? Was the rotation a one game thing or something more?