Game Recap/Notes: Game #32. Pistons 104 - Knicks 101. (18-14)
This is a bit late, but I was going to write it yesterday and I got super sick. Since the Pistons have two more days before they play again I figure late is better than never for now.
His final stat line was not overly impressive, 10 points on 14 equivalents with 8 assists (against 2 turnovers) but this was a better game for Jackson and seemed to get him back into the form he has been in for most of the year before the last couple of weeks. He largely deferred and facilitated for others throughout most of the game, and then down the stretch the Pistons went to the pick and roll and Jackson got the job done. Obviously you would prefer he hit a few more of his shots earlier in the game, 10 points on 14 equivalents is not good no matter how well you finish, but it is still the sort of game you want Jackson to play. It should also be noted that he probably should've had a few more assists if it wasn't for some screw ups by others (especially Drummond missing a couple of dunks.)
Also in good news, Jackson continues to look better defensively again, and while he obviously wasn't against the toughest competition in the world but he still looked fine. All in all it combines to give real hope going forwards that the previous stretch of poor play was nothing more than that, just a stretch.
Reggie Bullock continues to make the most of his opportunity with the starters, as well as making Stan Van Gundy look pretty smart for making the move, while at the same time making Stan Van Gundy look stupid for having him out of the rotation for most of the year. Regardless, Bullock continues to be just what the doctor ordered, he scored 14 points on 8 shots with 6 rebounds, a steal, and a block in 30 minutes of play. He never has plays run for him but he just finds the open spots in the defense for layups and open threes and converts them. It is still a small sample size, but he is looking like the real deal to be a starter long term.
Just as Jackson seemed to get back on track, Tobias Harris did but even more emphatically. After one of the worst stretches of play he has had in a Piston uniform, Tobias scored 24 points on 20 equivalents (7-10 from the line) with 3 boards and 5 assists in 41 minutes of play. He got to the line a bunch (2 of his free throws were technicals FWIW) and the Knicks struggled to contain him yet again. And on the other end of the floor Harris looked much less bad than he has recently. That isn't to say he was good but there were not nearly as many plays where he so clearly made mistakes.
One trend to watch going forwards is his assist totals. It hasn't really shown up in the numbers all the time, and Harris is never going to be an effective passer, but he seems to be getting a little more comfortable in making basic passes out of the pick and roll, whether on lobs to Andre or a kick out, and it is tied directly to the fact that he is starting to run more pick and rolls with Andre. Even a small improvement in that area would be big for Tobias.
Getting the start again to cover Kristaps Porzingis, Tolly had 12 points on 13 equivalents with 3 rebounds in 35 minutes of play. But his biggest contribution was on the defense end of the floor as he did a really good job on Porzingis who finished with 29 points on 29 equivalents, a far cry from his normal efficiency. Tolliver gave up very little easily, and other than a couple plays where he got beat the only clear shots Porzingis got were when other people had him. Very good game for Tolly.
18 points on 18 equivalents with 15 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks in just 26 minutes in a foul shortened night. The fouls called on him were pretty weak but whatever, when he was on the floor he was largely very effective, with the main exception being that he forgot to box out Enes Kanter on several possessions which is not so good. The only other complaint is that he missed 3 (I think) dunks which is also not so good. Regardless, he was still very effective for most of the game and played a good game.
After playing a terrible game last time out, Moreland bounced back with a pretty decent one. In an extended 22 minutes due to Andre's foul trouble Moreland had 4 points on 4 shots with 5 rebounds and 2 steals and a +11. He didn't really do anything particularly not-worthy but that goes for bad things as well which was good.
Ish looked pretty good in this one. 10 points on 10 shots with 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 20 minutes of play. The Knicks had a stretch where he absolutely tore them apart which was fun. Mostly he was just fine, he played his game and the Knicks struggled with him and the bench mob had a very nice outing as a result.
Given how Bullock has played and how Johnson has played, I'm coming around to this swap. Johnson had 12 points on 9 equivalents with 3 rebounds and a pair of steals in 20 minutes, he continues to be visibly more aggressive and confident while playing with and against bench units. He said when the move was made that if he comes off the bench he will get double figures every night, and he has scored 13, 7, 16, and 12 points since the move. So far so good.
Played 18 minutes, missed all 3 shots he took, had 1 rebound and 1 assist, had a team high +16 on the night. Basketball is weird sometimes.
Good win at a good time for the Pistons. Jackson and Harris seemed to be mostly themselves, beat a pretty decent team, and despite all the hand-wringing of late the Pistons are 18-14 at Christmas and are 5th in the conference. It hasn't always been pretty but it generally isn't. I'm not saying everything is fixed and fine now, but this was still probably good for the general morale of the team.
What do you think? Are Jackson and Harris back in form for good? Is Bullock the long term answer?