Game Recap/Notes: Game #29. Pistons 104 - Pacers 98. (16-13)
Everyone take a deep breath, tonight ended up being closer than you would like, and it still stinks that the Pistons went on that losing streak. HOWEVA, the Pistons are through the toughest stretch of schedule they will face all year, they are 16-13, and everything suddenly looks pretty good. My guess is that all but the most optimistic of us would not be displeased if we were told before the season that the Pistons would be 16-13 right now.
Rough night offensively for Jackson in the end. 8 points on 12 equivalents with just 3 assists in 24 minutes. He only played 24 minutes due to foul trouble, and he just generally struggled to get anything really going. The good news however is that he looked to get back to the good defensive habits that had him playing the best defensive season of his career, which is good given how bad he was the last couple of games. Still a rough game for Reggie, but he played more the right way on both ends tonight than he did the last couple which was good.
With Avery Bradley hurt (in a supposedly non-major way) Luke Kennard got his first start and he played really well. He finished the night with 9 points on 6 shots with 4 assists in 18 minutes. He did not play at all down the stretch (or at all in the 4th I think?) for defensive purposes but he looked great in the time he was out there. He hit his only deep ball, he got looks inside the arc, and made some awesome passes. The Pistons generally did their best to hide him defensively but within that he looked totally fine which continues to be a nice surprise form him. The Pacers overplayed his long ball and he made them pay on several different possessions with buckets and passes, excellent game from Kennard.
I'm still not sure how I feel about him starting over Johnson, but one thing is certain, Reggie Bullock has deserved this chance to really play for a while. He has found his deep ball over the last two games and tonight he was the best version of himself. Offensively he was the whirling cutter and passer who sneaks into any and every crevice the defense allows while also being a floor stretching sniper. He finished with 15 points on 9 equivalents including 3-4 from deep in 33 minutes. On the other end, Bullock continues to really impress this year, as he got the bulk of the Oladipo assignment and did a really nice job. Oladipo finished with 26 points on 24 equivalents but a decent amount of that was not against Bullock.
Regardless of the Stanley situation, (which is admittedly polarizing among fans right now) if Bullock can keep his shot at levels that he is capable of then it will be hard to complain too much about him being a starter. He is a complete player and fits in just fine as a starter.
Ouch. 6 points on 14 shots, going 2-14 from the field with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 28 minutes of play for Tobias who put up his 2nd stinker in 3 games. I'm not totally sure if there was something the Pacers were doing to cause the troubles, but given that they are not exactly teeming with great wing defenders it is pretty disappointing to have Harris struggle so much. He also struggled defensively at several different times of the game, and while you still take him every day of the week and twice on Sunday's obviously, but when his offense struggles like this he is hard to watch sometimes.
That said, it is important to remind that Tobias has been really consistent as a Piston so I'm not going to ride him too much for a bad game, especially since the Pistons won anyways.
You know what's up. 23 points on 18 equivalents (including 5-8 from the line) along with 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in 32 minutes of play. Drummond was the best player on the floor the entire night, he got into space and his teammates found him but a lot of his points actually came from him really forcing the issue himself. Whether it was on the offensive glass or by going to the hoop. His scoring tends to ebb and flow with the rest of the offense, and down the stretch tongight with Jackson and Harris struggling so much, you could almost say that Drummond kept the Pistons offense afloat.
Also worth noting, there are not a lot of big men in this league who can switch onto a guard like Oladipo on the perimeter and straight up block a jump shot in crunch time. That is the type of thing that really makes him special.
Even though he came off the bench again, he was definitely not heading for a DNP tonight and he finished with 27 minutes. He scored 13 points on 12 equivalents with 6 rebounds and 4 assists (without a turnover) in those minutes. In news that shouldn't surprise anyone, he looks a lot better on offense when getting to go against bench guys instead of starters and he also gets to take on more ball handling duties which plays to his strengths a bit more. I'm still a bit unsure of a Stanley Johnson bench mob given how many issues Ish Smith's lack of shooting already give the half-court offense of that unit but if Johnson can play like he did tonight then it may work just fine. He played with energy and did all the right things. Perhaps putting him with the bench and allowing him to handle the ball more on offense with those units is the best thing for him, we will see.
Ish is officially on the regression after scoring at a (by far) career best efficiency for a while. He scored 6 points on 12 shots, with 2 assists in 24 minutes. He still played ok in the end I think, the Pistons mostly looked at their best when he was pushing the ball and doing his thing, but I just hope that he finds some semblance of scoring balance back soon.
20 minutes, 9 points, 3-6 from deep, scrappy defensive play, a couple hard screens set, just another Friday for Anthony Tolliver. Dude is rock solid.
The volume was smaller tonight, but I nearly gave him the honors for his combined play over the last three games. 11 points on 9 shots isn't that great but he lead a charge to give the Pistons a big lead with some big buckets and he also had to guard Oladipo at various points. He was less successful than Bullock was but he mostly did an admirable job. Galloway will probably hit a slump for a couple of games at some point here but for now, just enjoy the way he fires away.
The first game against the Bucks is right there, but this may have been Moreland's best game of the year. In 16 minutes he scored 4 points on shots with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks which are not big numbers even by his standards (unless you consider that he often doesn't score at all) but he really played a good game. I thought he played with more discipline on defense than he usually does and he made a couple of big time blocks. I was very disappointing that Lance Stephenson didn't try to go over his back for a couple more rebounds because I would've enjoyed a Moreland v Stephenson throw down but alas. Also, when you inevitably see the replays of Sabonis yamming it on Moreland, remember that Moreland would block the ever-loving crap out of the Pacers on a couple of other occasions. Very nice game for Moreland.
With this win I'd say the Pistons are pretty much back on track. I'd still be surprised if they finished over .500 but the Pacers are a real team on the road on a back to back and the Pistons won in a pretty good game. It was frustrating, but the losing streak largely consisted of losing close games to good teams, as long as they keep taking care of business in an easier stretch then there are not any worries.
Also worth noting that SVG got his 500th win tonight! He is the 31st coach in NBA history to do so, and he has a decent chance to be 29th all time by the end of the year.
What do you think? Bullock should start long term? How about Luke Kennard?