Thursday, December 3, 2015

Game Recap #19 - Suns at Pistons

(8-11) SUNS 122
(10-9) PISTONS 127

Box Score


- The difference between effort early and effort late.  The Pistons entered the night as the league's 7th-best defense, only allowing 101.1 points per 100 possessions..  The Suns are a fast-paced, high scoring offense, but the Pistons made them look like the Warriors with their lack of effort through the first 40 minutes of the contest.  Phoenix notched a 114.1 Offensive Rating, built on open three point looks and easy drives to the rim against the Pistons' slow-footed bigs.  Things turned in the fourth quarter, as the Pistons played smarter gap defense off the dribble and rotated more aggressively on the perimeter.  Those are really effort and energy items, and they fixed those issues at just the right time.  That kept the door open for Reggie Jackson to carry the Pistons into overtime offensively, where they would come away with an important win.  The team's second huge comeback W of the year puts them back on the right side of .500, and...

- ...this homestand could propel the Pistons to bigger things.  With what would have been an acceptable, but less than desirable, loss off the table, the Pistons have a very real shot at a 4-0 homestand.  They'll get a shot for revenge against Milwaukee and the Lakers over the weekend, in two winnable games.  At the very least, the Pistons need a split to stay on the right side of .500 before going back on the road when they head to Charlotte on Monday.  There are 10 Eastern Conference teams above .500 right now, so getting out ahead of that group after four straight home games would be nice.

- What are you doing, Jeff Hornacek?  I get that Andre Drummond's a really bad free throw shooter, and that the numbers say it's smart to foul the big man late.  However, the way I see things, regardless of how bad the shooter is, you don't put a team at the FT line with a chance to tie the game.  Drummond's a 40% shooter in the long run, but with 12 seconds left and the lead, I'm not giving my opponent a free opportunity to tie the game.  The long run statistics kind of go out the window in a small sample size of two free throws.  I'm glad Andre was able to make him pay for that decision.

- Credit to Reggie Jackson where due.  Here, and around the internet, Pistons fans have been pretty hard on Reggie Jackson this year.  He signed a big contract in the offseason, and while he's been far from terrible (other than in Brooklyn on Sunday, where he definitely was), he hasn't looked like the guy he did down the stretch last season.  That's flipped a bit in the last two games, as he's resumed the role of administering the offense before looking for his own.  He was a generous passer in the open floor and in the half court, which was a big part in the Pistons scoring at a rate of 118.1 points per 100.  I'm all for ripping a guy when he deserves it, but on the flip side of things, I think he deserves his due praise for his play over the last two games.

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 - Reggie Jackson: Apparently all it took was Reggie Jackson bottoming out against the Nets on Sunday to get him back on track.  He's been a different player on this homestand, and he was the main catalyst in the Pistons' comeback in this one.  With 34 points (12-20 fg) and 16 assists (only 3 turnovers), Reggie became the first Piston with 30+ points and 15+ assists in a game since Isiah Thomas in 1988.  I said as much on Twitter in the first quarter, that it was apparent he was in distribution mode early.  When he's doing that, it opens a whole other set of options offensively, both for him and the team as a whole.  I've graded him out as the Pistons' top player in each of the last two games; Monday was his first top finish since the sixth game of the season.  Hopefully this is Reggie turning a corner and returning to the player we saw at the end of last year.

2 - Marcus Morris: This was far and away the best game Marcus Morris has played in a Pistons uniform.  He scored 24 points on only 10 FGA, grabbed 14 rebounds, notched 3 assists and added 2 steals for good measure.  I hope it wasn't just because he had extra motivation against his old team, but the Pistons needed every bit of his output to come away with a win, so we'll take it.  He was 4-6 on shots inside the arc, including 3-4 at the rim.  He only took two mid-range jumpers in the whole 42 minutes he played; more of that, please.

3 - Andre Drummond: With Tyson Chandler out of the lineup, I had high expectations for a massive game from Andre.  He disappointed early, failing to assert himself against the Suns' short-handed frontcourt.  He came around eventually though, finishing with a solid 22 points and 12 rebounds, and the two biggest points of the game at the FT line.  He was only 6-17 from the line overall, but the Pistons lose this one without his two freebies late.  One thing I didn't like: he got beat off the dribble way too much by Leuer and Teletovic.

4 - Ersan Ilyasova: Ersan came out blazing in this one, finishing the first half with 19 points.  He only scored 4 points in the span of the second half and OT, and missed two of three from the free throw line in a tied game late.  That being said, he was a big part of the Pistons establishing their offensive gameplan tonight, and I think his scoring early helped open things up later for Reggie.

5 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: KCP continues to play heavy, heavy minutes.  He played 44 minutes in regulation against Houston on Monday, and with OT against the Suns, he logged another 46.  Stan Van Gundy has to find a way to cut his minutes down, or we're going to continue to see him struggle offensively.  He finished with 10 points (4-11 fg, 1-4 3p), and did a decent job stuffing the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3steals.

6 - Anthony Tolliver: With the way this season has gone so far for Anthony Tolliver, I'll gladly take 5 points on 2-2 shooting.  He also contributed 3 rebounds and a steal in his 15 minutes.  Other than his inconsistent shooting, it also feels like Tolliver isn't bringing the energy he did last year.  I remember him single-handedly turning the tide of a first half blowout against the Hawks with blocks and charges and open threes.  The threes will come and go, but where's the energy stuff this year?

7 - Stanley Johnson: I thought his shot selection was okay, as he minimized mid-range jumpers on the way to an ugly 2-7 shooting performance.  I'd obviously prefer he shoots well, but I'm more concerned with him playing within himself and not forcing contested jumpers.  Rookies are bound to have an offensive game like he had tonight.  I was more bothered by his over-aggression on defense.  He got beat off the dribble several times by overpursuing, and his overaggressive closeout on Brandon Knight allowed Phoenix to take the lead late in the 4th.  Not a great game, but the Pistons need his wing minutes badly.

8 - Steve Blake: Not much to say about Blake tonight, which is probably not a bad thing on most occasions.

Andre Drummond2.05
Reggie Jackson3.47
Marcus Morris3.58
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope3.79
Aron Baynes5.29
Stanley Johnson5.78
Ersan Ilyasova5.63
Spencer Dinwiddie6.00
Anthony Tolliver6.35
Steve Blake6.67
Reggie Bullock7.00
Darrun Hilliard9.00

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