Game Recap/Notes: Game #39. Pistons 100 - Lakers 113. (17-22)
Well. We are almost there. We can (and will) talk about why this has happened, but regardless of reason, the season is almost over. Even in this Eastern Conference you can only afford to fall so far out, They will probably make a drastic and stupid trade in a week or so for good measure which will be fun.
Actually played decent. 15 points on 12 shot equivalents with 5 assists in 32 minutes. He didn’t do a ton that was overly meaningful, he mostly just kind of hit the shots that were there for him. Defensively he was fine as well, Lonzo Ball isn’t exactly a tough guard (or Josh Hart who he also spent a lot of time on) but neither of his main guys did a ton. He wasn’t all that good, but he was mostly competent, which makes him a bit of a standout on the night to be honest.
8 points on 8 shots with a pair of assists. For the first time since making him a starter, the starting lineup got really blitzed in the second half although Brown managed to salvage his own +/- to just -2 which was best among the starters in his 24 minutes.
The Pistons have little choice but to keep riding the Brown as a starter train, they haven’t had any other starting lineups that have worked and even if it always felt shaky and its possible this was the first sign of what’s going to happen, they don’t really have time to go away from something that has mostly worked. That said, there is a good chance this was a preview of what is going to happen as the sample-size grows. It is hard to have a good starting lineup with such a limited offensive player.
Struggled. 13 points on 13 equivalents, shot just 2-8 from deep, got torched by pretty much whoever he guarded and in the second half he started to totally check out on defense on a few possessions where he was guarding Michael Beasley which wasn’t nice to see. Just a poor night for Bullock in most every aspect.
Offensively it was miserable. 6 points on 14 equivalents is comically bad. Most notably he took three 3-pointers in this game, which isn’t alright. If Casey is still giving him the green light then he has to stop, and if Casey has told him to stop only for him to continue, then Drummond should get sat down next time he shoots.
His defense was good enough that I won’t drag him too hard and was pretty much the only thing that worked for the Pistons in this game and it is reflected in him going just -4 in 32 minutes behind his 3 steals and 2 blocks.
Kennard is still good and the jerking around of his minutes remains highly frustrating. 12 points on 10 equivalents with 5 boards and a pair of assists in 19 minutes was really nice. Hopefully Casey starts to give him more minutes, not because they may as well play the young guys, but because it will give them a better chance to win.
Stanley’s first good game in a while. In 18 minutes he scored 9 points on 7 shots and had a pair of assists on his way to a team-best +8 on the night. My guess is that his time in Detroit is winding down, he’s one of their few tradable players, but it’s still nice to see him have a positive impact after being in a terrible rut for a while.
4 points and 3 rebounds. He is still awesome at skulking along the base-line waiting to slip into space for easy dump-offs and that’s fun. He really should be getting more minutes of actual center play though since he just doesn’t have the defensive chops to guard skilled scorers, even ones like Beasley and Ingram.
Galloway is a streaky shooter, tonight was one of the games where he hits everything, which makes such a lopsided loss even more frustrating. He scored 15 points on 7 shots, with all 5 of his hits coming from beyond the arc (5-6) including a flurry that briefly gave some small hope that maybe they were going to get back into the game.
Hypothetically the Pistons can still climb out of the hole they’ve dug. Almost every season there’s a team or two who looks dead in the water and gets going in the second half of the season, given that the organization almost certainly has no interest in tanking we better hope they become one of those teams.
That said, even I, the most optimistic of fans, is losing faith and Tom Gores interview last night pretty much killed the last of my hope. When they hired Dwane Casey there was a curious quote about how “They ensured security for Casey while they sort out the roster” and Gores talked about getting through “The process” with the beat writers largely coming away saying the plan is to wait out the bad contracts and rebuild to Casey’s system. Toss in Casey saying, after the Spurs loss, that it takes time to build something and I’ve got no faith.
The basic premise of all that isn’t bad, patience isn’t bad and I would rather wait out this season and re-tool than make a dumb trade in a last ditch effort to make the playoffs this season, but the talk about building to Casey’s scheme and him being safe is a very bad sign. The Pistons knew that it was going to be borderline impossible to make major roster changes this season, and they knew/know that Blake Griffin is only going to be this good (and healthy) for so long. Rather than hire a coach who would fit with the roster at hand to try and make the most of this current roster, they not only hired a coach who’s style and abilities go totally contrary to this roster, but they told him to just do his thing and not even try to make changes because he signed a 5 year deal.
The Pistons second and third best players are at their best when running pick and rolls together, Dwane Casey won’t run them. Reggie Jackson is taking nearly 50% of his shots from deep, Andre Drummond is only assisted on about 50% of his own makes. For reference here, guys like Clint Caplea, DeAndre Jordan, and Rudy Gobert are all in the upper 70s%. The defense is designed for a squad with high-level perimeter defenders and a slow-anchor in the middle. The Pistons have two + perimeter defenders on the roster and one of them fouls an absurd amount and the other is now on the edge of the rotation and niether can play offense. Meanwhile, Drummond’s greatest defensive ability is his quick feet and active hands. Casey and the Pistons never had any interest in trying to win with this group, and maybe they couldn’t have won with them regardless. But somehow the Pistons were better the last two seasons with injuries, chemistry, and all other sorts of issues than they are this season. They could’ve at least put some pressure on Casey to win this season with this roster, instead they told him not to worry about it, will probably punt on the generational talent of Andre Drummond and waste a All-NBA/borderline MVP caliber season from Blake Griffin. That’s hugely disappointing. Even if the end-goal is to change everything up as soon as they can, which is fair given the roster, punting on a season instead of even trying is hugely disappointing and deflating.