(6-8) BUCKS 109
- Not what I had in mind for getting the starters some rest. The Pistons played a competitive first quarter with the Bucks tonight. Stan Van Gundy and his group must have been pretty pleased with it, because they decided the game was over after that. The Pistons were outscored 63-36 in the middle frames, surrendering a seemingly unmitigated flow of open threes and even more open lanes to the rim. The upside to the brutal ass kicking that the Bucks provided is that no single Piston played more than 26 minutes. Hopefully guys like Marcus Morris, KCP, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond feel rested after tonight. If they don't, the Pistons would have been better off just staying home.
- Stan Van Gundy got thoroughly outcoached. Andre Drummond had established dominance over Greg Monroe early in this one. There was nothing the Bucks could do to stop Andre from getting what he wanted inside. The Pistons went away from that for some reason, even before Drummond had to leave with three minutes left in the 1st after he picked up his second foul. From there on out, it was the same three guys standing around a pick-and-roll that has the Pistons' offense in the bottom three of the whole NBA offensively. The pick-and-roll can be a great staple for this team, but Stan Van Gundy has to find ways to get more out of the three guys who aren't center stage for the action. The Bucks got several layups/dunks for guys out of the pick-and-roll who weren't the screener or the ball-handler. The Pistons don't have enough talent to run the exact same thing over and over and get results. If you can think of a time this season where it felt like Stan Van Gundy has had a positive effect on a game with his moves or rotations, let me know. I can't think of anything. Part of it is calling plays, and part of it is just putting guys in situations that play to their strengths. Which leads me to my next point:
- Someone please tell Stanley Johnson to stop shooting from the top of the key. With an 0-3 performance outside of the corners tonight, Stanley Johnson is now shooting 3-25 on threes from straight away and the wings. He's 5-13 from the corners. He's also shooting 70% at the rim. This tells me that it's time to put him in the starting lineup. With the bench group, he's too responsible for generating his own offense, or hocking up a prayer with the shot clock expiring. If he plays with the starters, he can stand in the corners and/or cut to the basket without having to get looks on his own. I understand this would hamper his offensive development, which can be addressed by making him the first man subbed out after six or seven minutes. He's playing about 20 MPG right now; 12-15 of those should come with the starters. The other 5-8 can be spent trying to refine his ball-handling and shot creation with the reserves.
- The night's silver lining. Anthony Tolliver was 4-8 from the field and 3-6 from deep in this one, with two of his long distance connections coming in the mostly pointless fourth quarter. He was 0-10 from the field in the three games leading up to this one, and came into the night shooting 25.6% from three. Tolliver rounding back into form and shooting closer to his career average (35.2 3P%) would go a long way for a bench that generates looks but not points.
- Wing depth: not good. Darrun Hilliard got his first minutes of the season, seeing 13 minutes of action. He responded to the opportunity by going 1-7 from the field, 0-2 from three and turning the ball over twice. Reggie Bullock only got in late, playing 6 minutes after SVG decided it wasn't worth putting his starters back in. Bullock went 0-2 from the field, and missed a wide open three. He's now 1-17 from the field this season, and somehow 0-8 inside the arc. The preseason was a mirage, like it usually is. Jodie Meeks wasn't playing well, but he's sorely missed right now.
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.
1 - Andre Drummond: Posted 15 points and 15 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action, as well as a block and a steal. He didn't do a good job defending Greg Monroe, but the same could be said of Monroe on Drummond. The most frustrating part of Drummond's game tonight was that we didn't get to see more of it.
2 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: KCP had his second straight strong shooting night, going 6-8 from the field and 3-4 from three. His shooting numbers are starting to creep up after a slow start.
3 - Stanley Johnson: Johnson was a mixed bag tonight. The good news is, he brought his usual level of energy and aggression on defense, to go with a few strong takes to the rim and a bounty of free throws on offense. The bad news is, his shot selection continues to be suspect. As mentioned above, he needs more looks from the corners.
4 - Anthony Tolliver: Earned his keep tonight by knocking down the open shots that were generated for him. That's all that this team needs him to do. Also had a nice block at the rim on Greg Monroe.
5 - Aron Baynes: Got called for a pretty weak flagrant foul, but was solid and unspectacular beyond that. Needed 7 FGA to score 6 points, but grabbed 9 rebounds in 19 minutes.
6 - Reggie Jackson: Tried to do too much on his own offensively, and it showed in his efficiency. He was 3-11 from the field and matched his 7 assists with 3 turnovers in 24 minutes of action. More creativity in the offense could help him as a distributor.
7 - Marcus Morris: Another underwhelming performance from Morris. More turnovers (3) than made field goals (2). As expected during his hot start to the season, his shot selection is often detrimental to the offensive flow. Too much face up/iso, not enough post up from him in the last few games.
8 - Spencer Dinwiddie: Has been okay enough to keep Steve Blake from getting another crack at things. Blake got to play late, but he wasn't anything spectacular in his own right. Really needs to stop losing his man on the arc defensively.
9 - Darrun Hilliard: Probably not what he had in mind for his NBA debut. I thought he did a decent job getting looks for himself when he wasn't rushing. Getting good looks and not converting doesn't do much to set one apart from Reggie Bullock, though.
10 - Ersan Ilyasova: Returned to Milwaukee with a cringe-worthy performance: 0-7 from the floor in 24 minutes played.