(6-5) PISTONS 104
- Andre Drummond is the franchise player that this organization needs him to be. Take away Andre Drummond and replace him with a league average C and this Pistons team is competing with the Sixers to see who gets to draft Ben Simmons. It never gets old watching him sky above his teammates and opponents to pluck a rebound before everyone else even has a chance to jump. He's been doing that since his rookie season. What he's added this year is an ability to hit a simple hook shot. His shot is nearly impossible to block thanks to his wide shoulders, and as the season has gone on, his comfort level in the post has improved. All hail Andre.
- I need to go back and re-watch this game. Of course Reggie Jackson makes his return to being a distributor on a night where I didn't really have a chance to watch closely. I'll be interested to see what allowed Jackson to get to double digit assists for the first time this season. My best guess is that Ersan Ilyasova's shooting forced the Cavs to not commit extra help to Andre Drummond.
- Are the Pistons playing to their competition level? After beating the 8-3 Cavs, the Pistons improved to 6-5. Their six wins are against teams with a combined record of 38-28. Their five losses have come against teams with a combined record of 30-25. Take out Golden State's 12-0 record and that drops to 18-25. That's something that suggests a few things to me. First, the Pistons have played one of the toughest schedules in the league to this point. Basketball-Reference's strength of schedule metric puts them 6th. Second, maybe the grind of the road trip really did effect play out west? The Pistons have wins over the Cavs, Bulls and Hawks, who are currently the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. This team is more than capable of beating teams like the Kings and Lakers on full rest.
- Can we start a petition to get LeBron to the Spurs? I say this for two reasons: First, it would finally get him out of the Eastern Conference. Second, I would be very intrigued to see what he looks like on a team that actually has a competent coach. In his career, he's played for the likes of Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra and David Blatt. That list is less than impressive. Blatt aided the Pistons' win by intentionally fouling Andre Drummond with the Cavs up 4 and just under three minutes left. Giving the league's 28th-best offense a chance at free points is less than optimal, Dave. Thanks though!
- Friday night's matchup in Minnesota should be interesting. The Wolves are one of the league's pleasant surprises this year, sitting at 5-6 after a road win over the Heat on Tuesday night. That win bumped them to 5-1 on the road, which means they're 0-5 at home. With two full days to recover and prepare, the Pistons should have an edge on the young, talented Wolves. It's far from a guaranteed W though. I'm excited to get my first full game look at Karl-Anthony Towns.
Click "Read More" for tonight's Player Scores...
What is this? Similar to how the NHL hands out three stars after a game, I'll be handing out points to any Piston who saw at least 15 minutes of playing time. Just like in hockey, you want to be the 1st star, so getting 1 point is better than getting, say, 6. I do my best to watch all 82 games, but it's not always possible. I will make it known if I did not watch the game being graded. This takes as much into consideration as possible: stats, eye test, intangibles, etc. It's just how I saw things shake out. I'll keep a running set of standings updated at the bottom of every game recap; remember, the lower average the better.
*Disclaimer: I watched this game, but missed a good chunk of the third quarter and had a lot going on otherwise while I was watching. I leaned a bit heavier on the stats than usual to grade this one, so that may be reflected.
1 - Andre Drummond: You can definitely count the number of big men better than Andre on one hand. You can do it if you're missing a finger or two. After his latest dominant performance, 25 points and 18 rebounds, Drummond is averaging 19.1 PPG and 18.9 RPG for the season. Last night was his 11th double-double of the season, through 11 games, and he was only two rebounds away from notching his 4th 20-20 game. On top of the huge stats, he hit three of four big free throws late while the Pistons were trailing. One thing that's allowing him to rack up these monster numbers? His fouls per 36 has dropped from 4.1 to 3.2; less fouls equals more minutes, points and rebounds. All hail Andre.
2 - Reggie Jackson: Hit six big free throws down the stretch to get himself to 23 points on the night. He was only 7-18 from the field, as he cooled off after a hot start to the game. The free throws were huge, but so was his return to being a distributor. His 12 assists were by far the most he's had in a game this season. He did turn the ball over 5 times along the way, but I'll honestly take that if it means he's in creator mode. After pulling in 6 rebounds in this one, Reggie is now averaging 4.5 RPG to go with 20.6 PPG and 5.6 RPG.
3 - Ersan Ilyasova: The Pistons won't lose many games on nights where Ilyasova has a game like he did against the Cavs. 20 points on 10 FGA, boosted by a 4-6 three point shooting night. Throw in 6 rebounds for good measure, and you've got everything the Pistons can ask him for.
4 - Marcus Morris: I kicked around putting Morris 5th and KCP 4th, but he did more of the peripheral stuff on the stat sheet, so he wins out. He shot poorly again, going 4-12 to notch 14 points, but he added 4 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist. Morris is now shooting 37.8% for the season, well below his career average. He'll pick things back up shortly.
5 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Scored 13 points on 5-11 shooting, but was only 1-5 from beyond the arc. Tonight's shooting performance dropped him to 28.8% on the season.
6 - Stanley Johnson: The rookie struggled to score yet again (4 points, 2-6 shooting), but he grabbed 6 rebounds and contributed to the defensive effort against LeBron James in the second half.
7 - Anthony Tolliver: Tolliver's shot remains off the mark after another 0-2 shooting night; both of his misses were three point attempts. He has minimal value when his shot isn't falling, and he's now down to a .293/.294/.429 slash line. That's bad.
8 - Spencer Dinwiddie: He followed up his excellent performance in LA on Sunday night with shades of Steve Blake against Cleveland. He should continue to own the backup PG spot, simply because he has a higher upside than Blake.