Game Recap/Notes: Game #64. Pistons 112 - Bulls 104. (33-31)

Another impressive win. The Bulls have been solid lately and to make such a huge comeback is always impressive regardless of opponent.

Box score.

Reggie Jackson:

A strange game. In the first half Jackson was pretty much the only person who could do anything and went into the break with 15 points, but barely played the second half as Casey decided to ride Ish and the hot unit that brought them back. In 23 minutes Jackson scored 21 points on 18 shots with a pair of assists. And don’t let anything fool you, he gets immense credit for the way he played in the first half, if he isn’t grinding out tough buckets while everyone else is tossing up bricks then the Pistons hole gets even deeper and they may not get to make a comeback.

I’m not going to complain because it worked tonight, but I’m not a huge fan of the “ride the hot unit” approach that Casey has backed to an extreme at times. The Pistons bench started to take over the game, something that was entirely predictable (I talked about it in my preview even!) but there’s a reason bench units are bench units. But hey, it worked tonight so no worries for now.

Wayne Ellington:

Like Jackson, got little run in the second half on his way to just 22 minutes. Unlike Jackson he was not good in the first half and scored just 2 points on 4 shots. And while he had a tough assignment, often being asked to guard the much bigger Otto Porter, but he still really struggled.

Bruce Brown:

Played 25 minutes, which is actually more than he usually does, and scored 4 points on 4 shots and had a pair of hugely impressive blocks. He didn’t exactly lock down on defense but I thought he played Zach LaVine well and really gave him trouble at times.

Blake Griffin:

Through most of the game it was furthering my worry that something may actually be wrong with Blake. He was taking a bunch of threes, struggling to score, and was lackadaisical on defense even by his low standards. in the 3rd quarter he left the game with an injury to the knee and worries abounded. HOWEVA, he returned and dominated the 4th quarter, scoring 16 points, which was the most life he’s shown since the break. Griffin finished the night with 27 points on 21 shot equivalents and 3 assists. I’m not sure this counts as the breakout game to put aside my fears totally given how bad he was in the first half, but it was nice to see him turn it on with a stretch of inside scoring.

Andre Drummond:

I really wanted to give him the honors again but I don’t want my family to lecture me about my potty mouth.

Drummond played a whopping 43(!!) minutes, never sat in the second half, and put up 20 points on 16 shot equivalents, 24 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks on the night. The most impressive part is that he never showed any signs of relenting the entire night, which given that he never sat in the second half is highly impressive. Once again Drummond simply dominated the game, early on he was the only guy other than Jackson who was doing anything right, and when they got rolling in the second half Drummond was integral to it. He has been the teams best player since the break, and it’s a little bit funny to me that the offense got shifted from featuring Blake to featuring Andre and has gotten 100 times better.

Luke Kennard:

In 28 minutes he scored 14 points on just 9 shot equivalents and had 3 assists, all of which were lovely. Since the all-star break Kennard is scoring 16.4 points per game on a TS% of 71%, which is utterly absurd. He has clearly found a groove and a comfortable place with the bench crew and it’s been awesome. He is proving to be exactly the guy the Pistons need.

Ish Smith:

So for all the worry in the Jackson segment, let’s be clear, Ish played really well tonight and it is great to see him joining Luke in having a really strong stretch since the break because the Pistons bench is killing people on the regular again. His numbers don’t really pop, 7 points on 7 shots with 7 assists against 4 turnovers, but I’ve always said that Ish is a guy where you can look more into the +/- than with a lot of guys. So much of Ish’s value comes from the fact that he always pushes in transition and that impact often isn’t reflected in his personal counting stats. He finished +14 and was on the floor for pretty much the entire comeback. Good game for Ish. He’s also quietly gotten his TS% back above 50% (only to 50.6% but hey) which is a important mark for him.

Langston Galloway:

Galloway is catching up baby. 15 points on 7 shot equivalents with a pair of assists. His hot shooting brought the Pistons back in this game as much as anything. Since the break he is shooting 54% from deep and is roaring back in regression to the mean. As frustrating as he’s been this season, when I talk about believing in the sample-size, this is why. A guy who’s been a 37% shooter his whole career doesn’t often just have a season where he shoots 33%. It happens sometimes, but I’m betting on him figuring it out.

Thon Maker:

Played 16 minutes and did fine. One downside is that I think Dwane Casey is all the way out on Maker at center given than Andre played so much. That isn’t the worst thing, I didn’t think Thon at center was a good idea anyways, but it still would’ve been nice if he had proven me wrong.

Glenn Robinson:

Only played 4 minutes and only recorded 1 assist in the box score but hey, he wasn’t terrible.

General:

Nice to see Blake look like himself again, if he can do that over a whole game it’d be lovely. Andre really is reaching the height of his powers right now and it’s awesome, also please stop with the “Wow where did this come from” as though last season didn’t happen. It isn’t Blake’s leadership, it isn’t that he got snubbed. It’s that he is this kind of good and has been, they only just decided to try and feature him in non-post-up ways again and has a healthy point-guard. Defensively it took a while to get comfortable in the scheme as well.

There remains a sinking feeling that the Pistons will find a way to blow this, we’ve all been disappointed an awful lot by this club, but still, if they win many more games it will be harder and harder for them to blow it.