Game Recap/Notes: Game #58. Pistons 114 - Hornets 108. (28-30)
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. The Pistons came back from a huge deficit on the back of Tobias Harris and KCP putting up big nights and Ish Smith becoming the turnoverless alien that he was for a 7 game stretch earlier in the year for a night. It isn’t a great idea to place your basketball life on KCP chucking those kinds of 3s, but sometimes its better to be lucky than good. And they did it all with Reggie and Andre on the bench… wait a minute, how did this water get on my ship?
I’ve got a bone to pick with Reggie Jackson. Because I have gone above and beyond to defend him, and then he goes out and does this crap. I don’t know who’s decision it was to just not have Jackson run pick and rolls and instead have him be a super passive ball handler who spent most of the night dribbling up and then passing it off to someone else, but whether it was Jackson or SVG, they need to get bashed over the head. One thing that Zach Lowe talked about in his article that I didn’t see a lot of people mention is that Reggie has been trying to change his game to accommodate the changes in the team. He has taken way fewer shots, been driving less, and generally handing the offense over to other guys a lot more, and Lowe said that Jackson is struggling to refind his place on the team. Here is the thing Reggie. When I say that the Pistons are not going anywhere good with Ish Smith as their point guard, it isn’t because his jersey says “Smith” and yours says “Jackson” it is because, in their current construction, the Pistons need someone who has the right blend of scoring and facilitating to acutally scare defenses. You are the only one who has that. Ish is an almost historically bad scorer, KCP is super streaky and still can’t really take guys off the dribble or make good plays when he does, Marcus is decent but nothing more, Tobias is a wonderful scorer but not in the same universe as you as a playmaker out of the pick and roll. It has been proven time and time again, that when you play good teams that are locked in (like the playoffs or other important games) you need to be able to set up in the half court and generate good looks somehow. Even at when he is playing well, the Pistons are bad in the half court with Ish Smith. So Reggie, stop looking at twitter, stop worrying about KCP being sick of guarding PGs, stop worrying about Andre wanting post up looks. Go out and play your game, run 100s of pick and rolls every game, and be the engineer of the offense. Because if you are just going to passively give up the ball every possession then they might as well just start Ish and dump you this offseason and find someone else. Do your thing, and if you can’t do it then the Pistons know they need a new starter. I’m going to ride with you for the rest of this season though, but if you keep up this crap and the season is over, I’m out.
Remember when I said KCP is probably going to end up like Cavs version JR and people made fun of me? KCP has to officially join the ranks of irrational confidence 3 guys. Late in the game he is totally unafraid of just freaking chucking, some of them were totally irresponsible, one of them made me upset at the time because it was so irresponsible. But hey, sometimes they go in the hoop lol. It was kind of a funny game because he was mostly hot garbage heading into the final stretch, but he just kept on firing away. Early in the game he also put forth some of his best defensive efforts of the year and for the first time looked a bit like last year’s KCP, but he then did proceed to get beaten bad a couple of times down the stretch, fortunately it didn’t usually end up costing him much. He ended up with 33 points on 27 equivalents with 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Great game by KCP. Now the trick is to not fall off into the abyss again like he did after the Pelicans game.
Not actually a very good game for Morris, putting up 16 points on 17 shots with 8 boards and no assists. But some of those rebounds were big time, and he did hit a super clutch isolation bucket in overtime that was super dope. But mostly he was just in the background doing all of his normal things that just help you win games, being in the right places on defense, boxing out his guy, and setting picks. So still a decent game for Morris.
So there is a thing that I have thought about Leuer for a while now, but I’ve hesitated to put it out there because I wanted to give it more time, but I’m going public with it. I don’t think Leuer can start at the 4, and should probably take over full time as the backup center. The thing that stifled the Pistons offense early on as much as Reggie being passive and KCP bricking away was that the Hornets were totally unafraid of Jon Leuer from deep. Despite his fairly decent career % from deep, Leuer had, heading into this year, taken exactly 200 3s in his career. For reference, KCP has already taken 305 this year. There was some concern heading into the season that Leuer’s deep ball was not very proven, and it is looking to be well founded worry. He is shooting just 31.7% from deep, and he is straight up gun shy from deep. Teams know that, not only is he just not very scary from deep, but that he doesn’t want to take 3s anyways. He would much rather put it on the floor and try and drive to the hoop or turn into those contest fallaway 2s. (Which admittedly, he is pretty good at) Teams leave him alone and it shows, even Special K, who is not usually the most opinionated color commentator, was constantly railing on and on about how the Hornets were just packing the paint. Tobias isn’t a sniper from deep obviously, but he is probably better than Leuer, and if you leave him open he is totally fearless about letting fly, and that puts pressure on the defense. When he is at center however, (like he spent most of the 4th quarter tonight) then it is ok that he isn’t much of a 3 point shooter, he can spend more time rolling to the hoop and generally being inside. I think he works better as a center. Obviously he can still spend time at the 4, but I think he should probably go back to the bench, but SVG probably won’t because “size”.
Kind of a rough game for Andre, because he more or less did the things you would want him to. He was aggressive and active and got on the offensive glass for 12 points on 10 shots and 13 rebounds in just 26 minutes. The problem is that he just couldn’t make good on his offensive rebounds. He had 4 of them and a couple other near rebounds and he only got a bucket out of one of them I think. Defensively He did mostly fine other than a couple of lapses against Kaminsky. Unlike Reggie who was probably benched because of his super passive play, Andre being on the bench was more of a “Ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality.
Until KCP went crazy at the end of the game, this was Tobias’ night. 25 points on 18 equilvanets with 7 rebounds and 3 assists, he was the driving force that kept the Pistons in the game and brought them back later with tough offensive buckets and nailing 3s. He isn’t all the way there yet, but Tobias really is starting to show real growth on defense. He is making better rotations and providing rim protection that is pretty rare from a guy of his size. It could well be that we get to the end of the season and Tobias Harris has made the leap.
Earlier in the season, right at the end of when he was starting, Ish went on an absurd 7 game stretch where he had 46 assists and 2 turnovers. That is peak Ish, and he can’t spend all his time there, but he is capable of doing it. His 16 assists were aided a bit by KCP going with the “Just don’t ever miss” strategy, but Ish still put in excellent work facilitating and finding teammates for buckets including a couple of filthy passes to Tobias for dunks. He did shoot just 2 of 12 from the field for 5 points for perhaps the most Ish of stat lines with 5 points on 2-12 shooting, 16 assists with just 1 turnover and 6 rebounds. Wonderful game by Ish.
Other than a really stupid foul on Batum shooting a 3 at the end of the half, (ugh) Stanley had a really nice game as he picked right up where he left off before the break. He was super active on defense and made a couple of really nice plays for 2 steals, and he even finished a couple of fast breaks at the hoop! He finished with 7 points on 5 shots, a pair of rebounds, an assist, and 2 steals in 16 minutes. He continues to be great off the bench providing an energy and creativity that is often lacking on the Pistons. Good night for Stanley. Also kind of funny, after the game he retweeted someone who said “why is Stanley the only guy who SVG judges based on shots being made or missed? He makes every other play.” You can take that for whatever you want too, but I just thought it was funny.
Played just 7 minutes, had one bucket where Ish hit him with a great pass for a fastbreak layup. Reggie Bullock is my favorite person.
Played 5 minutes. Did nothing.
Once again, it wasn’t over a fearsome opponent, but a win is a win. The Hornets more or less fell prey to the same problem that has plagued them this year, that if Kemba burns out and starts missing shots they just don’t have the goods to create any good offense. But it was certainly aided by good defensive play by the Pistons. That said, it is worrying, and they need to figure out how to get a real offense going again. Because counting on KCP to go full Jason Terry is not a good strategy very often.
What do you think? Should Leuer keep starting? Is KCP the greatest basketball player to ever live?