Game Recap/Notes: Game #75. Pistons 115 - Magic 98. (38-37)

The Pistons are right back on schedule and a tough road trip can stay just that, a tough road trip. The game was a little back and forth early on but the Pistons came to play from the opening tip and were largely in control the entire night.

Box score.

Reggie Jackson:

Jackson had a quiet night which was both a bit surprising and disappointing. The Augustin/Vucevic pick and roll coverage is (on paper) the softest part of an otherwise solid Orlando defense so you would’ve liked to see Jackson have more effectiveness. Jackson wasn’t terrible, the blowout meant he only played 20 minutes, but 5 points 8 shots just isn’t going to cut it even when paired with 4 assists. Simply wasn’t a difference maker, which thankfully didn’t matter in this one.

Wayne Ellington:

25 points, 17 of which were in the 3rd quarter, 12 of which were the Pistons first 12 of the 3rd quarter and were all from deep. Ellington needed just 16 shots to score his 25 points and it is fair to say that snagging Ellington off the buyout market may well have been the most important transaction that the new regime has done. I’m not saying Ellington is better than Reggie Bullock had been, Bullock can definitely do more with the ball in his hands/putting it on the floor and also a bit better on defense, but Ellington has played well enough that the Pistons traded their best wing player for a pick and a prospect and they’ve barely even noticed. That’s huge.

A thing that has really impressed me about Ellington has actually been his defense. Unless Glenn Robinson has some sort of epiphany in the last few games, come playoff time Ellington is going to be the defacto big-wing defender. That is still not a good spot to be in, but he’s put in better effort and gotten better results in that role than I expected.

Bruce Brown:

Only played 15 minutes, scored 3 points on a long three-pointer heave at the end of the shotclock. Did make a couple of nice defensive plays though.

Blake Griffin:

Really rough start, continues to struggle with his efficiency, his defensive effort is as poor as it as been in Detroit, which is saying something, but he did end up having a solid game. 20 points on 19 equivalents with 10 rebounds and 5 assists is a nice night when the refs are so adamant to not call fouls. I’m still worried that there is a real problem with Blake, most likely something connected to fatigue, and that he isn’t going to just come out of this slump but instead will just be less than 100% the rest of the season, but he continues to find ways to be a positive impact. One thing though, especially if he’s going to be mortal on offense, he must do better on defense. There are possessions where his effort, or lack thereof, is comically poor. Watch the highlights of Andre Drummond and the time he blocked Aaron Gordon’s dunk attempt.

Andre Drummond:

Nearly got the honors, but I held back for my father. Still, Drummond obliterated the Magic tonight, adding Vucevic’s skull to his ever-growing collection of centers purported to be better than him that he has owned. Drummond finished with 18 points on just 11 shot equivalents with 18 boards, 4 assists, 6(!!) blocks, and a steal. Nikola Vucevic, who had been on a tear, scored just 12 points on 16 shot equivalents and the Magic really had no answer for Drummond. He dominated every phase of the game, and he’s been playing at this high-level for long enough that it’s fair to say that this is just a thing and not a stretch. Things have clicked for him and the team around him for the first time and he’s fully arrived. Drummond was also a game-high +21 on the night.

Lastly, because I mentioned Blake’s defensive effort. Can we kill this absurd narrative I’ve seen that Blake’s effort is why Andre has played better? Its great (seriously) that Blake dives for loose balls and draws charges but the dude plays with minimal effort a great deal of the time. That’s ok, Blake’s a star who carries a large offensive load, that’s how the NBA works. But don’t at like Blake is any sort of beacon of effort lol, if Andre played with Blake’s effort level then even I would turn on him.

Ish Smith:

The Magic play Michael Carter-Williams as their backup point guard. He is terrible. Ish reacted as you would hope. 15 points on 14 shots and 6 assists for the Pistons backup. I’d prefer him to not be quite so eager to take his own shots but it worked for the night and he played some extra minutes. Somehow he finished the night -2 which I’m not sure how but whatever. Ish was rock solid tonight.

Langston Galloway:

12 points on 9 shots, shooters shoot and Galloway has found his shot which has been huge for the Pistons. He’s finally been making himself worthwhile and a serviceable bench wing player. Not a ton to say about his game though,Thon Maker:

he hit his shots really.

Luke Kennard:

Played 21 minutes, scored 6 points on 5 shots but did go +16 on the night. He did fine, he was just the main loser to Ish deciding to look for his own shot more, which once again isn’t ideal but it worked in this one so whatever.

Thon Maker:

Maybe his best game as a Piston? Orlando’s simple offensive attack allowed him to keep his defense simple and effective with a pair of big blocks, also hit a couple of threes and finished with 8 points on 4 shots. I’ll say this, even if he only has truly positive games ever few times out, it’s nice that you can count on him having at least one every once in a while.

Zaza:

*fart noise*

General:

It sucks that the Pistons couldn’t get a win out of their last three games, but the reality is that they went on the road to play 3 really good teams, they played them tough, they lost. Coming home and dominating the Magic is a good sign that all is still well, and the Pistons are still the best set up for the final couple of weeks among the teams vying for the last 3 playoff spots. Also Andre Drummond is incredible.