Game Recap/Notes: Game #25. Pistons 102 - Sixers 116. (13-12)
Another tough loss. Very shorthanded. We all knew that this month was going to be brutal and the injuries are going to make it even harder, doesn’t make it suck less though.
For this game he was fine. In 28 minutes he scored 15 points on 14 shots with 7 assists and was the primary chase of JJ Reddick and actually did a pretty solid job. Jackson still has a few plays every game where he gets way behind on defense, but so do most guys when chasing Reddick.
That said, I think that the Pistons may well be best off finding a new point guard. I think Jackson is a good player who can work for the Pistons, but Dwane Casey clearly doesn’t think that he’s capable of being any sort of offensive fulcrum in the pick and roll. If you are not going to use him there, then there isn’t much reason to have him on the roster.
And to be clear, part of this all does fall on Jackson. The change in his role started last year and he knew what was coming with Blake this season so he had plenty of chance to adjust his game accordingly. But something has to change. Either Jackson has to significantly improve as a shooter/off ball mover or Casey has to change the scheme to let Jackson handle the ball more. I’d just assume change the scheme, but something has to change. The Piston’s 3rd best player hasn’t had nearly enough of an impact.
Put into a starting role due to all the injuries, and he did fine. His total lack of shooting remains a huge issue for the offense whenever he is on the floor, but he continues to do a good job of cutting and slashing to at least make some positive impact on that end. Brown finished with 6 points on 7 shots with a pair of assists in 25 minutes of play, also had a brutal -21.
In this game there truly wasn’t much other option, but if/when the Pistons get healthier on the wing Brown should have a pretty marginal role. I love his potential and don’t mind him as a change-of-pace guy in small minutes but he just isn’t ready for a big role yet.
We been telling you about this kid. Getting the start due to injuries and playing 37 minutes, Kennard scored 28 points on just 19 shot equivalents with 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Kennard was also the only Pistons (other than Khyri Thomas in garbage time) to go positive at +2 on the night. Kennard handled the ball a ton, and while he did have moments where his inexperience showed on his was to 5 turnovers (some of which were very bad) he was excellent. He showed the full arsenal, hitting spot-up threes, coming off dribble handoffs, pulling up in Embiid’s face, driving into the lane, and hitting mid-rangers. Kennard has a great offensive package and it showed in this game.
Getting the start with Blake Griffin resting, he came out and had some mixed results but mostly looked good. In good news, he had 8 points on 8 shots and generally looked like himself on offense. The bad news is that he was the primary defender on Ben Simmons for a lot of the night and that went very poorly. For what it’s worth, it’s hard to be too upset with Leuer for that given that there is no universe in which you want him on Simmons anyways. Still would’ve been nice for him to have put up a little more resistance though.
Drummond was largely put right back into SVG’s stuff from last season with Blake out and Drummond looked every bit the guy that was doing it last season. Drummond finished the night with 21 points on 17 shot equivalents with 17 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 3 blocks. He played smart, didn’t do much posting up and instead operated as a roll-man and in shocking news it resulted in a efficient night.
One thing that this game does back up is something SVG said last year about Drummond, that Drummond has never complained about shot attempts or demanded post-ups but rather simply wants to touch the ball and be involved in the offense. With Blake out Drummond didn’t force anything and played a great game.
Losing takes it out, but Drummond should get a personal victory in this one over Joel Embiid. In the 2nd game these two played this season Drummond played perhaps his worst game all season, but easily outplayed the Sixers big-man in this one. Toss in that Embiid missed the previous game due to “fatigue” (which is especially funny since Drummond called out Embiid for being fat and out of shape) and it’s a nice little personal win for Drummond.
All-in-all a great game for Drummond. Complete performance, the only downside is that he was a probably a bit too concerned about covering Embiid and Mike Muscala’s shooting and resulted in the Pistons not cleaning the defensive glass well enough. Normally Blake is covering that for him just fine, but without Blake he has to be a bit more mindful.
Had a terrible +/- at -18 in just 22 minutes, his 4 turnovers had a lot to do with that, but overall he remains encouraging. He scored 11 points on 8 shot equivalents with 4 assists. While this game the turnovers were a problem that shouldn’t be long-term given Calderon’s history. He may not be effective every night, but he looks fairly spry and clearly still has some left in the tank.
Ellenson hasn’t really had any meaningful game-time this season and it was kind of a question mark still, but could’ve been worse. Played 17 minutes, scored 5 points on 5 shots and had 6 rebounds and an assist. He was also -11, his defense is still an obvious issue, but he didn’t stand out as being especially terrible which is good for now. At least he showed some signs of life.
6 points on 7 shots, 4 rebounds. Did fine. The best news is that Drummond avoided foul trouble so Zaza only played 11 minutes.
Only played 11 minutes cause he got hurt. Went 0-2. May well be out for an extended period.
Here’s the most frustrating thing about this game. With Blake Griffin out, the Pistons basically just ran all of the SVG stuff from early last-season. The ball moved, Drummond did his point-center thing, the biggest problem was that Reggie Jackson didn’t get to handle the ball enough and he still had 15 and 7. Here’s the thing, Jon Leuer started at power forward. There is nothing that is keeping the Pistons from putting a lot of that in when Blake Griffin is playing. It isn’t like last season when Anthony Tolliver is the backup which is a totally different kind of player who operates in totally different places. Blake is a better shooter, passer, and finisher than Leuer. But when Blake comes back they will certainly go right back to the static offense of constant post-ups and no identity beyond “Blake go do stuff.” It will be so much more frustrating to see going forward since we now know that the only reason they don’t run a better offense is just because they don’t want to.