Game Recap/Notes: Game #30. Pistons 114 - Magic 110. (17-13)
Not an ideal finish, if they had avoided the late collaspe then this game would've pretty much put all the fears of the losing streak to rest, but given that they let it get so close late there are still some lingering around. Still got the win though and that is most important, and remember that even though they had a day off, it was the 3rd game in 4 nights.
For most of the game, Jackson was right in line with most of the team in being on his way to looking like he was in for a great bounce back game, it wasn't on the flurry of drives that I kind of hopped for but he still was scoring easily. Then late in the game the offense became stagnant and Jackson was too content to hoist bad threes as the shot clock ran out and it hurt his efficiency on the night. Still finished with 17 points on 15 shots with 6 assists in 26 minutes which still isn't shabby. He also once again looked better defensively.
One thing I'd say is that I'm frustrated that SVG put Ish Smith in the game late, unless there is something they know about Jackson playing a certain number of consecutive minutes (which is possible) then I really don't like that. Jackson and Harris were both struggling mightily (and Tobias would continue to do so) but they are by far your best half court offense creators. A big reason that the Magic got back in the game is because the Pistons half court offense fell apart, and Ish Smith is not the answer to any problem with a half court offense and predictably the Pistons totally limped to the finish line. I don't know that Jackson would've made it much better, but there is a point at which you've gotta ride with your guys. Jackson, Harris, and Drummond are your guys and you have to put faith in them to come through when it counts.
Kennard had a great first start against the Pacers, less so tonight. He struggled to find his shot on offense as he finished with 3 points on 5 shots with 2 assists in just 15 minutes. SVG gave him an early pull for reasons that are not apparent although it is fair to assume (without having gone back to double check) that a defensive lapse of some sort is responsible. Regardless, Kennard played short minutes and was not all that good when he did.
Reggie Bullock seems to have fully found his comfort zone back on offense and played the best possible version of himself tonight. 20 points (a career high) on just 10 shots, including 4-6 from deep, with 5 rebounds and a steal in 31 minutes and I'm pretty sure every one of those buckets were assisted. He was in constant motion and finding open spaces whether it be from deep or cutting to the hoop, while at the same time playing solid defense. (against admittedly not difficult competition against the depleted Magic backcourt.) Really good game for Bullock and even though it kind of hurts to come largely at the expense of Stanley (or more so Kennard tonight) it is great to see him excel in the opportunity he has and I hope he continues to do so.
The numbers ended up probably being better than was really accurate for Harris I think. He finished the night with 17 points on 17 shots with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 turnovers in 24 minutes of play but he really struggled to get his shot to fall again. (If I recall correctly) 5 of his 7 makes were mostly open jumpers that the Magic just kind of gave to him. He really struggled to score inside and got blocked by noted rim protector Nic Vucevic 3 times which ain't good. On the other end he got completely roasted as Mario Hezonja went for a career high 28 points largely at Harris' expense. For reference, Hezonja has gone over 20 points one other time in his career, and it was for 21. He did get one bucket late which was nice but he really struggled tonight. Him and Jackson need to find their grooves back and soon, at the very least if they are going to need some time to find it, games against bad teams are when to do it because the Pistons can win anyways.
What a weird game for Drummond. 12 points on 11 equivalents with just 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in 29 minutes. It was weird because there was nothing in the eye test that would suggest that he was struggling in any particular way, but 6 rebounds is probably as poor a performance he has had (in that many minutes) which is weird. Regardless, I don't think he played poorly, he actually made a couple of really nice plays down the stretch of the game, but still weird to see him rebound so little.
Stanley Johnson: 6th man is admittedly already growing on me. Johnson finished with 31 minutes played tonight and put up 7 points on 8 equivalents with 5 assists and just 1 turnover with 6 rebounds in those minutes. When he is playing with the bench crew he has looked more assertive in the last couple of games than he has in, well, ever. He forced the issue into the paint and bullied his way to the free throw line and got to use his excellent passing to good effect. Perhaps I underestimated Stanley's abilities with the ball in his hands when assuming he should still be starting, he may actually be good enough to justify bringing him off the bench not just because Bullock can actually shoot, but also because Johnson can actually create offense in the half court. I still worry about the long-term outlook of a bench mob featuring Stanley Johnson and Ish Smith (and unless Leuer finds a jump shot back then whoever is playing center isn't much of a floor spacer if any at all) but if Johnson can keep driving the paint as aggressively and effectively as he has through a couple of games then it might work. Ish can do his thing in hunting transition opportunities, and then when those opportunities dry up they can turn to Stanley to use his punishing drive and kick game to generate looks.
Another day at the office for Tolly, a very good day, but just another day still. 17 poitns on 8 equivalents shots, going 5-7 from deep while also playing his usual energetic and smart defense. Tolly is awesome and also appears to be enjoying playing with a ball handling Stanley Johnson.
Another night where he looks a bit lost as the opposing team keeps him out of transition. 4 points on 6 shots with 6 assists in 22 minutes is not bad, but he just looked a bit out of sync.
Galloway quieted down after a flurry of red hot nights. He did finish with 11 points but 5 of them were from free throws at the very end of the game. He still played fine in his 20 minutes and his flexibility to play off guard with a bit of point has been especially useful over the last few games with Bradley hurt and Ish having various problems requiring him to sit for extra time.
Another game where Moreland actually played quite well. 6 points on 4 shots with 8 rebounds and 3 assists in 18 minutes of work. He once again was much more in control on defense than he often has been and it helped his play a great deal. If he can continue to play defense with that sort of control and smarts then he would be much improved as a player.
It isn't ideal given the opponent, but 3 games in 4 nights with a starter out, I'm not going to get too huffy and puffy about a win. It wasn't great but it was fine. Once again, I don't like taking out Jackson to end the game unless there is some sort of soft cap to the number of minutes he should play in a row (Ish Smith got a cut and had to leave the game earlier in the 4th quarter than he usually does). It was just kind of a weird game.
What do you think? Are the Pistons fully on track again? Is something bigger wrong with Tobias or Reggie?