(3-1) PISTONS 82
- The bench is already dragging the starting five down immensely. I couldn't possibly lead with anything else on a night where Detroit's bench was outscored 43-2. The bench unit was so bad in the minutes they did get that Stan Van Gundy was forced to extend his starters to minutes that aren't sustainable over an 82 game season. Andre Drummond played 43 minutes, KCP played 42 minutes and Marcus Morris played 39. Brandon Jennings can't get back to full health soon enough. Steve Blake and Spencer Dinwiddie were the biggest culprits tonight. Blake was abysmal yet again, and Dinwiddie's minutes in the second half weren't much better. His decision making looks worse than it did in his rookie year. Stanley Johnson's play was a bit concerning as well, as he went 0-5 and now sits at 9-33 (27.3%) from the field for the year. I blame the section of the Pistons interweb that crowned him as the Rookie of the Year after the preseason. At some point, SVG is going to have to shuffle some things around. I think a possible fix may be to move Anthony Tolliver into the starting lineup. Not because he deserves to start, but because Ersan Ilyasova's offense may be more beneficial to the bench unit. That shouldn't be a real thought yet, but if the Pistons come back home from the West Coast and this is still an issue, it needs to be examined.
- Andre Drummond was the only reason this game didn't get out of hand. Drummond dominated this game from start to finish, putting up his second straight 20-20 game. He finished with 25 points and 29 rebounds, getting it all done in a variety of ways. He scored with hook shots, on the offensive glass and out of the pick-and-roll. There wasn't a single Pacers big man who could even contain Drummond, let alone slow him down. This was the only truly pleasing aspect of the game outside of the first 8-10 minutes of the 1st quarter.
- We're now four games into the season and the Pistons have only shot above 40% from the field once. How long can that possibly continue? Even if you take out the bench's 1-12 shooting performance, the Pistons still only shot 32-74 (43.2%). It wasn't debilitating in the first three games because the Pistons dominated the offensive glass and didn't turn the ball over. Andre Drummond still controlled the glass in this one, but turnovers made it impossible to overcome the poor shooting last night. Detroit turned it over 23 times, leading to 30 Indiana points. Cut that in half and keep everything else the same and the Pistons win this game despite their crappy shooting.
- Indiana's 25-2 run in the 1st and 2nd quarters was incredibly frustrating. I felt helpless as I watched the Pistons turn the ball over five times in that span and Indiana turned a 28-19 Pistons lead into a 44-30 deficit. That stretch determined the outcome in this game. Thanks again, bench unit. There are going to be nights like this throughout an 82 game season, but the worst part of this one was that it felt like the Pistons were firmly in control early. The Pacers do not look like a good basketball team.
- The half-hearted boos for Rodney Stuckey were funny and confusing. I'm not a Stuckey fan, especially after he shredded our bench last night, but why the boos? He was an average player on a bunch of mediocre or terrible teams. What did I miss that would make him the kind of player you boo when he returns? It wasn't the whole Palace that joined in, so maybe it was just a small group of misguided fans leading the chorus. Still, it's not like the guy is Josh Smith.
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: There's never been a more obvious selection for anything ever. 25 points, 29 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. Drummond was the only reason the Pistons scored more than 70 points in this game. He was fully engaged from start to finish against an opponent that didn't have a single person who could match him physically. There were times in his first three seasons in the league where it seemed that he would drift in and out of games like this one where things weren't going right. That wasn't the case last night, as I thought he was the only Piston who truly looked ready to win and followed that desire through. The Pistons lost by 12. Drummond played 43 of the 48 minutes and was +8. If you don't know yet, you'll learn that I generally don't like +/-, but it's telling that the Pistons were -20 in the 5 minutes Drummond didn't play. His season averages are now clocking in at 20.3 PPG, 19.5 RPG, 1.8 BPG and 1.8 SPG. Only four games, but, wow. He didn't win Eastern Conference Player of the Week for no reason.
2 - Marcus Morris: The options after Drummond for last night's game are less than stellar. I gave Morris the nod for the 2nd slot because I liked his toughness and his defensive efforts against Paul George. It took George 17 FGA to score 16 points, and it didn't really feel like he dominated the game. Offensively, Morris left a little to be desired, but he was due for a poor shooting performance after coming out with the hot hand in the first three games.
3 - Reggie Jackson: I debated putting Jackson 2nd since he had the biggest game of the next few options, but I just couldn't do it. Scored 20 points on 20 FGA and matched his 6 assists with 6 turnovers. I thought his decision making was poor and that his turnover troubles kept the Pistons from getting back into the game. He was also +8, but I think we can agree that it's because he shared the majority of his minutes with Drummond. Still, on a team that clearly lacks reliable offensive options, his ability to attack the rim is valuable. I thought he looked winded all night, almost like he did in his Pistons debut last year.
4 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: He posterized Jordan Hill in the 4th quarter and did a decent job stuffing the stat sheet with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He was also 0-3 from deep and even though Monta Ellis didn't have a huge night, I think he lost the battle at SG. He wasn't the reason the Pistons lost, and the dunk was cool, but it wasn't a banner night for KCP.
5 - Ersan Ilyasova: Ilyasova started the game scorching hot, hitting 4 of his first 6 shots and notching 10 first quarter points. He then disappeared into the abyss, only connecting on 1 of his last 7 and finishing with 12 points. He did draw yet another charge, which puts him at 7 for the year.
6 - Anthony Tolliver: I'm breaking my own rules here to include some of the bench guys, because none of the reserves hit 15 minutes. Tolliver saw 12 minutes of action, didn't score and only recorded 1 rebound. That's bad.
7 - Stanley Johnson: The rookie saw 13 minutes and went 0-5 from the field. He did notch 3 rebounds and 2 assists, but Detroit can't win if he plays like this.