Game Recap/Notes: Game #56. Pistons 103 - Pelicans 118. (27-29)
That sucked. Third game in four nights against a team that loves to run is always a bad recipe, but that doesn't make it suck less.
Smith had a better game than his last time out, which admittedly isn't saying much, but he wasn't so bad. Smith finished the night with 11 points on 11 equivalents with 6 assists against 2 turnovers in 24 minutes. I'm officially at the point where I am almost unendingly frustrated by the way his lack of shooting strangles the offense but at least he remembered what color jerseys the Pistons were wearing tonight.
First time in a while where he wasn't really good. 14 points on 15 equivalents with 4 rebounds and an assist in 30 minutes of play. SVG made good on his statement that they needed to get him more directly involved in the offense instead of just hoping the ball finds him. He got more dribble handoffs and ran more actual pick and rolls than he probably ever has, and even though the results were a little bit mixed, this is definitely something worth trying, especially until Reggie Jackson comes back.
Stanley Johnson continues to be intriguing, good, and also strange. 10 points on 8 equivalents with 3 rebounds and a pair of assists in 28 minutes of work, and he also was the only non-garbage time Piston to go positive at +1. He actually hit a pair of threes tonight which was nice, but teams ignore him off the ball and he doesn't have the ball in his hands a ton, and yet I still often have felt like the Pistons offense runs better with his ferocious drives and quick passes on the floor. The downside to Reggie Bullock getting more touches is that it appeared to come out of Stanley Johnson's touches mostly.
Another kind of rough game but things moved in the right direction with Griffin I think. 22 points on 20 equivalents along with 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 32 minutes of work. He was less willing to take jumpers, didn't have to work post ups from the three point line so often, and was a more willing passer. If Piston shooters hadn't clanged so many open threes his final tally would've look a lot better (as would the final score) so thats worth mentioning. I thought he played a good offensive game and his shot selection and involvement in the offense trended the right way after a pair of games featuring way too many jump shots and isolations.
The down side is that he is still struggling a bit to get the ball in the hoop. Part of that is the terrible spacing of the starting lineup, but he is still missing some shots he usually hits. The bigger problem though is that for the third straight game he struggled to close out on shooters which lead to Nikola Mirotic having a huge game. I think it will not be a long term problem, but it has killed the Pistons at times over the last three games.
Struggled a bit on offense with 13 points on 16 equivalents with just 1 assist. But he did his job on the glass with 21 rebounds including 8 offensive, he joined everyone else in not playing great defense but I thought he played better than most did. He joined Griffin in just missing some bunnies at the hoop that you would expect him to hit, for Drummond they were mostly after offensive rebounds. He managed to take advantage of the lack of size the Pelicans had on the floor to get the ball but he just couldn't finish. So it wasn't a great game for Drummond, but I thought he did pretty well.
I've got good news, bad news, and worse news. The good news is that Nelson has the right combination of scoring and passing to make the Pistons offense look not awful while he is on the floor. The bad news is that tonight he went 1-6 from deep despite all but one of them being great looks. The worse news is that I'm not sure he can defend anybody. If he hits a couple more threes then maybe it is fine, but it isn't good to have a guy on the floor who defends so poorly. In the end though, Nelson finished with 12 points on 12 shots with 5 assists in 20 minutes of play. There is no denying that the Pistons offense just goes better when he is on the floor, and the question will be whether or not he can defend anyone.
6 points on 9 equivalents just isn't good enough for Tolly, especially given that he totally blew a dunk which hurt. The thing that made it worse though is that he could not even remotely replicate his early season success at guarding good power forwards as Anthony Davis totally roasted him. Obviously I do not expect Tolly to shut the man down, but it was a massacre.
Back in the rotation and another 1 for 6 night. Rough outing.
5 points on 6 equivalents, didn't do a whole lot.
Only played in the second half, 5 points on 2 shots with 3 assists.
Got a few actual minutes in the first half for the second straight game. I'm actually ok with that, even if it is just a 4 to 6 minute stretch in the first half, it saves Griffin from playing too many minutes plus some wear and tear to not have to play center.
Got some garbage time. Didn't really do much.
I've said this before, but in a vacuum this game doesn't bother me much. The Pistons were playing their 3rd game in 4 nights and a back to back against a team that loves to run at every opportunity. The Pistons are not the first team to go against the Pellies on a back to back and get run to death this season and they will not be the last. That said, the fact that they blew the Hawks game makes this one more painful. If they hadn't blown that game then they could look to one more game against the Hawks before the break and go into all-star at .500. Now that game is a really important one to win. The good news is that I mostly liked the adjustments that the Pistons made offensively, they just played awful defense and their good shooters missed open looks. Still, if the Pistons want to make the playoffs this year then they can't drop games just because they are tired and they had some moral victories by making good steps towards getting Griffin more comfortable and re-building the offense with his presence.
What do you think? Should Bullock have a heavier load? Can Jameer Nelson play enough defense to stay on the floor?