Game Recap/Notes: Game #80. Pistons 91 - Hornets 104. (39-41)

Welp. Not great here folks. It sucks that it’s come down to this but it is a reality of basketball. The Pistons got hot and were playing the best ball of the season, but they couldn’t quite stretch it to the end, and Blake is now on one leg so he can’t do much to slow the fall. Still can win two games against very bad teams to get in though.

Box score.

Reggie Jackson:

Second straight very poor game for Jackson. 9 points on 11 shots with 3 assists although he only played 22 minutes as Casey decided to play Ish Smith for 17 straight minutes in the second half, because you know how well that’s always worked in the past. In the end his impact was minimal.

Wayne Ellington:

14 points on 10 shot equivalents for the sharpshooter, which is still down from what he did for a couple games there but asking for much more than this is greedy. He got his shots in the offense and hit enough of them, and while he isn’t an awesome defender I continue to be fairly impressed by his overall performance on that side of the ball.

Bruce Brown:

Yeah. We’ve seen it a few times now so I think it’s fair to say that Bruce really cannot hold Kemba Walker. This is hardly a sin of course, there are not many who can stick with that guy. But Bruce really can’t do it. Bruce did manage 6 points on 5 equivalents but he blew a wide-open dunk and a easy layup in very frustrating fashion, and once again, if he isn’t doing anything to slow down his mark on defense then his lack of shooting is a pretty unacceptable downside on offense.

Blake Griffin:

So he’s going to need surgery this off-season and is basically playing on one leg. Supposedly he can’t make it worse by playing on it so he’s playing. It wasn’t happening tonight, and while if it’s really true that he can’t hurt it worse I suppose he should play (especially since the other options at PF are even worse than Blake on one leg) but I think they should accept that he needs a minutes restriction in the last two games and (hopefully) playoffs. I’d much rather have 20 minutes of good Blake than 34 of bad Blake. And boy did he struggle in this one, 16 points on 20 equivalents with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Also his one legged defense has truly brought him to new levels of poor-effort defensive play. Also pretty devastating to get hurt now, having his best and healthiest season in like 4 years and then right at the end gets hurt.

Andre Drummond:

One of the only guys who really came to play today. 15 points on 12 shots with 23 rebounds, 9 of which were offensive, along with an assist and 3 blocks. He also played the entire second half as we are officially to the point where Zaza has been so bad that Casey just looks and Andre and says “Don’t get tired” which isn’t a great spot to be in.

Defensively he did his part, he plugged most of the holes and cleaned the glass, but with Blake so immobile and Thon so skinny that the AC units threaten to blow him away, when Andre goes to plug holes the Pistons are ripe for lobs and offensive rebounds.

Ish Smith:

Played really well and led the comeback in the second half, finished with 20 points on 16 shots and 4 assists. The issue is that Casey decided to play him 17 straight minutes and close the game. First off, we know that Ish doesn’t work in end-game situations. He’s a guy who thrives primarily in transition and those opportunities dry up at the end of games. But even worse, is that we have actual, literal, data to back up that when you play Ish for too long you get diminishing returns. 17 straight minutes would be hard for anybody, but when you play at such a breakneck pace like Ish it is just too much. Even if they really wanted to close with Ish they should’ve gotten him a breather.

Anyways, he played well, he torched the Hornet backups and it was cool.

Thon Maker:

The full Thon Maker experience was on display. He made several nice hustle plays on both ends and had a pair of blocks. His energy played a real role in the pistons getting back into the game (his energy, especially compared to one-legged Blake was especially noticeable) but he also scored just 2 points on 7 shots. The one bucket he hit was a dunk that Andre spoon-fed to him. The real back-breaker is that Thon missed 4 WIDE OPEN threes when the Pistons were in position to take the lead. He also threw the ball out of bounds for no reason.

Games like this are a reality for Thon. Idk, I find it hard to be too upset. You always know he will bring energy, but some nights he will be useless everywhere else. It is, once again, an issue that he stood no chance of guarding Frank Kaminsky.

Luke Kennard:

Showed signs of life in the second half for the first time since he missed a game a little bit ago. Still finished with just 7 points on 8 shots though. Gotta get back to being aggressive and pull the trigger.

Langston Galloway:

Very bad on offense, scoring 2 points on 7 shots, but he did provide some value as he was the only guy who seemed to really give any ability to slow down Kemba in any meaningful way. Still a rough outing for him.

General:

Tough. The Pistons are still probably going to make it, but with Blake officially on one leg it seems rather silly now. If Jackson could recover from a pair of terrible games I’ll feel better about it, but Blake was really the reason why the playoffs were enticing, since Blake is the caliber of player that he could well go into a series and be the best guy in it, which would give the Pistons a shot. The Blake we saw today ain’t going to do that.