Game Recap/Notes: Game #60. Pistons 94 - Raptors 123. (28-32)
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. At least this time its a situation where you kind of expect to get blown out.
Ish Smith is not good enough for this. He played a not totally awful offensive game with 16 points on 15 equivalents with 2 assists in 26 minutes, but his shooting of course always strangles the offense so you have to take that into account. It is also officially at the point where his defense is a problem. Part of it is his fault and part of isn't. On one hand, good shooters like Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, and Kyrie Irving can just shoot over him from anywhere so even when he makes the right rotations he makes no difference, on the other hand, he is so comically undisiplined on defense that he often leaves leathal shooters open. He is far from the only one cuplable of this (glances briefly at Blake Griffin) but Kyle Lowry shot 6-8 from deep man. At the very least Ish has been more aggressive in trying to score when teams give him comical amounts of space.
14 points on 12 shots with an assist against 3 turnovers in 32 minutes. Bullock is a good player and the Pistons need him badly with the lack of shooting elsewhere, but it may be time to shelve him as any sort of ball handler for at least this season. It was worth giving a look, and honestly they maybe should just keep trying it because they are scraping the bottom of the barrel for looks that are not Blake battering his way through multiple defenders or Andre battering his way through multiple defenders or Stanley Johnson battering his way through multiple defenders. But Bullock has struggled with pull-up looks in the in-between spaces that he needs to hit to be effective in that role, he may be better just left as a pure spot-up guy.
Whatever corner we though Stanley had turned looked an awful lot like a dead end into a wall tonight. He was downright awful. 2 points on 6 shots with 4 fouls in 24 minutes. He did have one nice pass to Anthony Tolliver, but he did poorly offensively and did very little to deter DeMar DeRozan on the other end of the floor. And while I get that DeRozan is a really tough cover, but Johnson has a high bar set for himself on that end. I'm officially on board with swapping him and Ennis. I think it would help both the starters to have another guy who can actually shoot, and the bench would get some much needed energy and oomph.
Any chance he had at having a good game was robbed by the refs refusing to call fouls on the Raptors. This was a freaking joke. 12 points on 16 equivalents with 5 assists in 33 minutes. I actually though Griffin played pretty well, and they actually effectively used him as a roll man in the pick and roll with him at center for a stretch in the second quarter which was great to see. Perhaps a second viewing will ease my distain for the lack of calls for Griffin in this game, but I doubt it. Also, yes, Griffin's inability to get out on three-point shooters is officially a problem.
Thank goodness for Andre Drummond. 18 points on 19 equivalents with 18 rebounds, a pair of assists, 4 steals(!!), and 4 blocks(!!!) in 35 minutes. He played hard every minute he was out there, fully conquered his Jonas Valanciunas demons, and played a really great game. I don't know man. Drummond was very good, but there is only so much he can do.
James Ennis III:
10 points on 10 equivalents with 6 rebounds, an assist, and 3 steals. Some really good effort plays, a couple of bad mistakes. Like I said earlier, I officially endorse putting him in the starting lineup, I think it just fits better.
Jameer Nelson is dead, and it sounds like Buycks is going to be the guy until Reggie Jackson comes back. The overall results were, unfortunately, similar as the Pistons struggled with the bench crew, but Buycks played pretty well. 12 points on 12 equivalents with 5 rebounds and a pair of assists in 19 minutes. He was especially solid on several pick and rolls with Griffin which was nice given that Buycks has often struggled to make the right plays out of those situations. I also continue to be impressed by Buycks' defensive efforts.
Rough night for Tolly. 5 points on 6 shots, a couple of really not good defensive plays. He's fine, but it wasn't very good.
Back into the rotation and ouch. No points with 4 misses in 16 minutes. He just looked really bad on both ends in this one, this is probably as bad as he's been this season.
Played garbage time. Ellenson made a couple of nice plays I guess.
I think there are some small things that are going in the right direction on offense, but the defense has been awful for three straight games which is worrying. The Pistons defense has been pretty consistently solid, if never really great, all season. And it had still been so after the trade before the break. I don't know exactly what the answer is, Blake isn't comfortable enough with the scheme (which is way different from what he did in LA) to be fast enough on his rotations, Ish Smith is kind of a train wreck, and honestly so is everyone else. Small victories though I guess, the offense is running better, even if the results are not always showing up as guys brick good looks. It would also help in a big way if Blake Griffin could get some freaking foul calls.
The only real solace here is that this is a game that you kind of expect to get blown out in. Pistons 3rd game in 4 nights on the road with travel between each game against a really good team that is especially good at home. It is kind of at the point now though that the Pistons can't put it off any more, for their own confidence and for any hope of the playoffs this year. They got to pull out some wins, Reggie Jackson's return is coming, but they need to give themselves a chance to go on a run and sneak into the playoffs when he gets back. And they are going to be teetering very close to that edge at this point.
What do you think? How can they fix the defense? Do you have any strong rope?