Game Recap/Notes: Game #43. Pistons 91 - Raptors 96. (22-21)
Rough game. Drummond was incredible after the first quarter, the bench played well, the Pistons played solid defense for most of the game. Too many mistakes, too many Tobias Harris fouls, too many Ish Smith shots, too many Kyle Lowry back-breaking pull-up threes. This is another game where it is only really concerning because the Pistons are officially on a bad slide at this point. In a vacuum there is nothing to be ashamed of in losing a closely contested game in Toronto.
This may seem stupid given that I specifically highlighted how it is not a good thing that Bradley has been leading the Pistons in shot attempts (by a decent margin) since his return from injury and he did so again tonight, but I think this was his best game since coming back. First off, he was excellent on defense with 2 steals and did a hugely impressive job on DeMar DeRozan who scored just 17 points on as many equivalents and turned the ball over 5 times. What him and Drummond did to the Raptors pick and roll at the end of the first half should be illegal.
On the other end, despite leading the team in shot equivalents with 20, this time it was a bit different. He didn't pull up for long twos, he drove to the hoop. Drummond scored at least 4 times off of Bradley misses where Bradley drew the entire defense. Here is the thing, I am not saying that it is totally justified in letting Bradley shoot so much or that it makes up for all the turnovers and such, but there is real value in the fact that when Bradley puts his head down and goes to the hoop, he is going TO THE HOOP. The sheer tenacity with which he barrels to the basket draws extra defenders which unlocks Drummond, and this is especially important with Jackson out. Ish Smith isn't worrying enough to ever really draw a crowd, and Tobias Harris will forever be a guy who prefers to use his long limbs to stretch out and over the defense instead of bullying through it. Even Jackson doesn't attack as fearlessly as Bradley but he is just so freaking cagey in the paint that he is awesome. Simply put, the Pistons need someone who is willing to push the freaking envelope and Bradley did it. If he drives to the hoop like that every night then I don't care if he is shooting this much with Jackson out.
Are you really not going to do Ish Smith?
I like Ish Smith. I don't know if I want to have the conversation with you that I'm having in my head.
I am in your head. This is literally a bold text of you anticipating what other people will say.
Holy crap was this a disaster. Smith had 3 points on 14(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) equivalents in 31 minutes played, while also having Lowry get enough space to launch threes on several possessions (which is obviously tough, like that happens but still) with his only redeeming quality on the night being that he did manage 5 assists against just 1 turnover. Goodness though this was ugly. He shot 1-12 from the field and 1-4 from the line. He forced up too many shots, went out of the offense too often, and was generally terrible.
I don't know for sure. Maybe you just hope Jackson comes back and you ride it out, but I'm legitimately unsure if you can roll with Ish as the starter, or at least in crunch time. People figured it out as last season went on, and they are fully dialed in on it now. Smith cannot really be a part of a functional half-court offense and it is killing the Pistons right now. In good news my voicing of these concerns means he will probably find his jumper for the next game and score like 20 points.
2 points on 4 shots with an assist and a couple of steals. Props to him for making one of the great effort plays you will see where he full on laid out for a loose ball and then won the ensuing jump ball, like this wasn't a “He got to the floor first” this was a “he threw his entire body, headfirst, like 10 feet to get the ball.”
Other than that play though he had a bit of a rough go. The Raptors played him well to keep him from having much impact but he could've done a bit more.
Back to back rough outings for Harris. 12 points on 15 equivalents with 3 assists against 2 turnovers just isn't good enough for Harris on this Pistons team. Without Jackson they need him to be that tough bucket getter and he just wasn't. He was in foul trouble a lot of the night and ended up fouling out but still managed 32 minutes. Just a bad game.
In the bigger picture, keep an eye on his trend for a bit. I showed a lot of praise to Tobias for his play since the Jackson injury, but now after two bad games it is possible he is regressing a bit. Hopefully he turns it around with a big game against Washington to end that talk.
He wasn't all that good in the first quarter. He seemed hesitant and a half-step slow. But following his re-entry to the game in the second quarter he took over the game and was nothing short of brilliant. He finished the night with 25 points on 16 equivalents, 16 rebounds, a pair of assists, and 4 steals in 38 minutes of play. I mentioned it earlier but it is absurd what he and Avery Bradley did to DeMar DeRozan on a couple of possessions, and Drummond was generally a huge pest to Toronto ball handlers and the Raptors just had no answer on the other end once the Pistons went with the tried and tested offensive strategy of “Just go at Valanciunas over and over again”. It is hugely disappointing that this had to be a night when the rest of the starters crapped the collective bed, because he had a whale of a game.
In interesting news, for perhaps the first time ever I actually thought to myself “screw this, just give Andre the ball and see if he can score” in crunch time. This was more a result of everyone else playing so badly that I'd rather let Andre get a go simply as recognition of his effort on the night but still, he took Valanciunas off the dribble enough that it wasn't totally outlandish, just a little.
Beyond that it is nice to see him do this against Valanciunas. Drummond probably doesn't care since they were both losses sandwiched around him getting owned by Dwight Howard, but it is nice to see him have good games against Robin Lopez and Jonas Valanciunas given that both guys have real histories of getting the best of him.
Tolly had a nice game. Forced into extended duty in an effort to combat Tobias' foul trouble and he scored 9 points on 6 shots (all threes) with 4 rebounds and a pair of assists. It was frustrating that he couldn't help more on the defensive glass but that has never been a strong suite of his.
After getting dusted off, likely because Luke Kennard ended up not being quite good to go, Galloway produced on both ends of the court with 11 points on 8 shots with an assist and 4 steals. He got some extended time against the Raptors 3 guard looks and played really well.
Buycks looked a little bit like a G-Leaguer in this one. He scored 3 points on 5 shots but I think he had 3 shots blocked at the rim. In good news, he continues to show a pretty well rounded game to make up for the fact that there will be nights where he doesn't score well. He recorded 6 assists and played good defense in his 17 minutes and the Pistons bench outplayed their Raptor counter-parts.
10 minutes, 7 points on 7 equivalents, 6 rebounds, a whole bunch of fouls drawn. I don't know man, I wouldn't mind them just tossing him out there every night defense be damned.
Lowry hit shots, Pistons shot like crap other than Drummond, on the road, good team, hard to win. The Raptors are legit but it still sucks to lose, I don't usually buy into a lot of the psycological stuff people talk about, but I do buy into the idea that there is a real thing about being above .500 and as such the next game against the Wizards is pretty important. Stop the fall.
What do you think? How about Drummond? Should Ish play in crunch time? Is Tobias regressing a bit or is it just a couple bad games?