(11-9) PISTONS 102
- That will do just fine. The Pistons won this game tonight without much fanfare. I missed a large chunk of the first half in this one, but if ESPN's game flow is correct, and my memory serves me right from the second half, the Pistons never trailed in this one, and led for every minute from the 10:29 mark in the first quarter. Detroit didn't play a fantastic game at either end of the floor, but they were simply better than the Bucks. For a team who has won two games with frenetic 4th quarter comebacks, and also managed to lose to the league's bottom feeders, it was nice to see a boring win with little drama.
- An average night for the offense. Thanks to the late game fouling, the Pistons were able to cobble together approximately an even point per possession for the night, despite shooting 7-23 from beyond the arc. That's right around their season mark of 1.02 PPP. That can happen when non-Drummond Pistons go 24-29 at the free throw line. The Pistons aren't going to turn into the Warriors overnight, so it's important that guys like Marcus Morris and KCP hit their freebies like they did tonight.
- This Bucks team doesn't appear to enjoy basketball. Tonight's loss dropped the Bucks to 2-8 in their last 10 games, and 7-13 on the season. It could have been a one-off situation, because I don't watch much of the Bucks, but they look like they either don't enjoy playing for Jason Kidd, or don't enjoy playing together as a team. They looked listless on offense for most of the night, and any time they started to fight back into the game, the Pistons had no trouble pushing the lead back to comfortable territory. Most people, including myself, thought this Bucks team would utilize their talent and finish around the middle of the Eastern Conference. Instead, they're only ahead of the Nets and Sixers in the Eastern Conference standings. This year's Bucks team has shades of the Pistons teams with Josh Smith, where the sum of the talent is greater than the product on the floor.
- Auto-fouling took a night off. Andre Drummond managed 10 free throw attempts tonight, but none of those came at the direction of Bucks coach Jason Kidd. Most, if not all, of those 10 attempts came from genuine basketball situations, which is fine by me. It was a relief and a pleasure to actually get to watch real basketball for 48 minutes tonight. On the other hand, I'm surprised Kidd didn't go to the tactic when Milwaukee was having a hard time getting the deficit smaller than six in the second half. Seems like that would have been an appropriate time to send a sub-40% shooter to the line. No complaints here though.
- A very real chance at a 4-0 homestand and a 12-9 record. If the Pistons can find a way to beat the mighty Lakers, who I believe are now 20-0 on the year, on the back of yet another MVP-type season from Kobe Bryant, they'll find themselves at 12-9 heading to Charlotte for a big game on Monday night. As of Friday night, the Pistons and Hornets share 9th place in the Eastern Conference, sitting a mere 2.5 GB of the 1st place Cavaliers, assuming they didn't overcome a 7-point deficit through three quarters in New Orleans. The Eastern Conference is a tight pack this year, so Detroit absolutely cannot afford to get swept by a Lakers team that looks set to pick in the top three this coming June.
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: This is Reggie's third straight #1 finish coming off of the stinker he put up in Brooklyn. He didn't have a special night or do too many spectacular things, but he just played good, steady basketball. For the most part he was good defensively, he only committed two turnovers, and (partially thanks to the Bucks fouling down the stretch) finished with 23 points on 8-14 shooting from the field. He's looked like a franchise PG in the last three games.
2 - Andre Drummond: Much like Jackson, Drummond didn't play a spectacular game, he just had a good, productive night. The scary thing about Drummond not playing spectacularly is that he still managed to post 17 points and 23 rebounds, adding 3 steals and 2 blocks for good measure. He's now averaging 18.5 PPG, 17.0 RPG, 1.9 SPG and 1.6 BPG for the season. A 3-10 free throw performance dropped him to 37.3% on the year.
3 - Marcus Morris: It's hardly fair to put Morris third on a night where he finished with 23 points (7-14 fg) to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Jackson-Drummond-Morris should probably go 1a-1b-1c in all honesty. It's Mook's third straight solid game after the Brooklyn debacle as well, and it's quite obvious how important his offense is to this team. Usual plus-minus caveat applies, but Morris led all players with a +14 tonight in his 39 minutes of action.
4 - Ersan Ilyasova: Ersan struggled with his jumper again against his former team, going 1-5 from deep, and not connecting on his one make until there was less than two minutes left. Still, he played a solid game, notching 13 points on 4-10 from the field, adding 8 rebounds and a very unsurprising charge. He did have a flop in the fourth quarter that could draw a warning from the league. Hopefully that doesn't discourage what is easily his best defensive skill.
5 - Anthony Tolliver: Tolliver has played this season as two separate versions of himself. The good one showed up tonight, as he drew a charge of his own, grabbed 5 rebounds and blocked two shots to go with 8 points on 3-5 (2-3 3P) shooting. I complained about the lack of energy plays from Tolliver after the Suns game the other night, and he added a few in this one. Thanks for reading Anthony!
6 - Stanley Johnson: The rookie finished with 10 points on 4-10 shooting (2-4 3P) and added little else to stuff the stat sheet. Both of his connections from deep came on corner threes tonight, which means he's now shooting 52.4% on corner threes this season, and 20% on non-corner threes. Someone has to know this information on the Pistons coaching staff and make sure he's open by a country mile if he's shooting from the top of the key or the wing. I don't recall his defense drawing any feelings tonight, good or bad.
7 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Yeah, it's great that KCP has emerged as a defensive stud this season, but eventually he has to start providing some offense again. With tonight's 8 points on 1-6 shooting, KCP has shot below 40% from the field in six straight games. Yes, his defense is big, but at some point, there's no value if he's shooting like he has. Part of the problem is the heavy minutes he's played, but simply put, he just needs to shoot better.
8 - Steve Blake: Steve Blake exists for at least another 3-4 weeks.