Monday, November 30, 2015

Game Recap #18 - Rockets at Pistons

(7-11) ROCKETS 105
(9-9) PISTONS 116

Box Score


- The first half was great!  The Pistons dominated the Rockets from the word "go", even with Andre Drummond glued to the bench with two early fouls.  The Pistons led by 8 after the first and 23 entering the halftime break.  Reggie Jackson notched 17 first half points and I can't think of a single player, other than maybe Drummond for removing himself from the action, who had a negative impact on things.

- The second half...not so much.  The Rockets used a poor FT shooting night from Andre Drummond and some sloppy play from the Pistons to vault themselves back into the game in the 3rd quarter.  With few options remaining, the Rockets decided to play the foul game, putting Andre at the line 14 times in the third quarter.  He only hit four of those, and in the process, the Rockets whittled the Pistons' lead from 23 to 11.  They would come as close as 5 points late in the fourth quarter before their comeback effort ran out of gas.  File it away as a learning opportunity.  The Pistons didn't play a clean second half by any means, but a good portion of the Rockets' comeback was that they hit some tough shots.  Factor in some of the auto-fouls that James Harden draws, and they're a team built for a good comeback.  Credit to the Pistons and Stan Van Gundy for adjusting in the fourth quarter and holding on for the win.

- I don't think auto-fouling should be allowed, but the Pistons should have utilized it.  In the midst of the Rockets' huge third quarter, Andre Drummond was left to struggle at the FT line.  The discussion about the NBA allowing or not allowing that sort of thing is one for another day, but since it's legal now, why not take advantage?  Clint Capela, a career 37.5% FT shooter, played chunks of minutes while the Pistons' lead was bleeding out.  Why not stunt the Rockets' momentum by making Capela answer Drummond at the FT line?  I get that you don't give out free points with the clock stopped, and I'm not saying they should have done it on every Rockets' possession.  However, there was a point in the 3rd quarter where it felt like the Pistons were helpless to stop Houston from scoring.  Take a possession or two and make Capela keep that momentum alive with some unlikely FTs.

- Stanley Johnson came alive tonight! The rookie notched career highs in rebounds, blocks and 3PM tonight.  His 19 points and 10 rebounds gave him the first double-double of his career, and he hit his four threes from all different spots on the floor.  The best part was that it didn't feel like he had to force things to make it happen.  A couple more outings like this and we'll have to get serious with discussions about moving him into the starting five.

- This isn't news or a unique take, but... There isn't a less boring "superstar" in the league than James Harden.  I very much disliked watching him take over the game by drawing a bunch of weak fouls and shooting 17 free throws.  He's a talented offensive player, but it's no fun watching him play the way he does.  Can't blame him for it if he's going to get the calls, but you can't make me enjoy it either.

Click "Read More" for tonight's Player Scores...

2015-16 Asset Board

1Andre DrummondC6'112802291
Obvious #1 is obvious. 2nd best young big in the game.
2Marcus MorrisF6'92352668
Needs to get his jump shot back on track; Still a good value
3Reggie JacksonPG6'32102565
Good, not great, starting PG. Has a level we haven't seen this year
4Kentavious Caldwell-PopeSG6'52052265
Still on his rookie contract, and a solid, if unspectacular, starter.
5Stanley JohnsonSF6'72451964
Flashes come and go. Youth and potential are his best assets.
62016 1st Round Pick12-18---62
Preferences in this range include Caris LeVert and Henry Ellenson.
7Ersan IlyasovaPF6'102352858
Flexibility in the contract adds extra value for an average guy
8Brandon JenningsG6'11752655
Check back when he's returned to action
9Anthony TolliverPF6'82403040
Pending FA; Shots need to start falling or his value will keep dropping.
10Jodie MeeksSG6'52102839
Injuries eating into his value; contract not seeming to be worth it
11Aron BaynesF/C6'102602832
Good moments and bad; Adequate backup, but deal hurts value
12Darrun HilliardG/F6'62152231
Value mostly in his youth and rookie scale contract
132016 2nd Round Pick42-48---30
Too early to expect anything with this one
14Spencer DinwiddiePG6'62002230
Things are looking bleak lately; Clock is ticking
15Reggie BullockG/F6'72052427
Earned PT in the preseason; Did absolutely nothing with his minutes
16Steve BlakePG6'31753523
Oldest player on roster; may be superfluous when Jennings returns
17Joel AnthonyC6'92453315
Safety blanket at C; no expecation of serious on-court value

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Game Recap #17 - Pistons at Nets

(8-9) PISTONS 83
(4-13) NETS 87

Box Score


- It's time to start making some changes.  In a conference where just about everyone other than the Sixers and Nets are at or above .500, you can't afford to lose games to the Nets and the Sixers of the world.  You especially can't afford to do it on nights where the Nets shoot below 40% for most of the night.  The Pistons cancelled that out by going 34-101 from the field themselves and missing 12 free throws.  We're one fifth of the way through the season, and the Pistons are shooting 40.8% from the field as a team, a main component in the Pistons being one of the league's worst offensive teams.  Earlier in the year, I was insistent that sample size was a factor and that they would pick things up.  We're 17 games into things and now it just looks like the offense is broken.  Teams know what to expect in the pick-and-roll, and with shots not falling for guys like KCP and Marcus Morris, they can pack the paint on Andre and Reggie.  The players aren't adjusting well to teams taking away their bread and butter, and Stan Van Gundy has yet to come up with any answers.  It's probably time to shake things up and make some adjustments, if only for the sake of making it look like they're trying to find solutions.

- What could those changes possibly be?  It might be too early in the year for roster moves, so I'll try and focus more on what could be done with the pieces currently in place.  I think the first move to happen needs to be swapping Stanley Johnson into the starting lineup for Ersan Ilyasova.  This has nothing to do with Johnson outplaying Ilyasova or anything like that.  This is more about getting better shooting from the bench unit and starting to eat some of Anthony Tolliver's minutes.  Ilyasova's one of the lowest usage players on the team, despite being the only guy who's shooting the ball well.  Getting him to the bench gets him more looks.  Getting Stanley into the starting five also gets him more open looks instead of forcing him to find shots himself.  Other ideas for fixing the offense without making moves are scarce.  They really just need some guys to start making shots.  One thing I did like that I saw tonight: a dribble hand-off from Jackson to Morris, that lead straight into a Drummond-Morris pick-and-roll.  That PnR lead directly to an alley-oop to Andre.  More creative stuff like that should do wonders.

- This terrible offense is wasting what looks like a damn good defense.  Coming into Sunday night, the Pistons ranked 8th in the league in Def. Efficiency, only ceding 101.5 points per 100 possessions.  That won't change after the Pistons held Brooklyn to 87 points in a game that saw Brooklyn come away with about 100 possessions (100.6 if you use the formula method: FGA + .475xFTA + turnovers - offensive rebounds).  The real problem with the offense is that it's putting a stranglehold on a team that has the potential to win enough games to easily secure a playoff spot.  Among the top 15 teams in the league in Def. Eff., the Pistons are now the only one with a losing record.  If it does come time to make a trade and upgrade the offense, there's your justification.

- The upcoming home stretch is now very important.  The Pistons sit below .500 for the first time this year, but are also looking at their first consecutive home games in a month.  It starts with the woeful Rockets on Monday night, who are battling the Knicks in OT as I write this.  They've been a mess this year, and their big offseason pickup, PG Ty Lawson, is headed for a DNP-CD in New York tonight.  Detroit failed to take advantage of a weak Nets team tonight, and can't afford to make a similar mistake against Houston.  That one's followed by Phoenix on Wednesday, and chances for revenge on Friday and Sunday against the Bucks and Lakers.  Anything less than 3-1 against that slate of opponents, with the luxury of no back-to-backs, will be a disappointment.  Getting back on the right side of .500 and staying there is important for morale.

Click "Read More" for tonight's Player Scores...