(13-11) PISTONS 107
(1-23) SIXERS 95
- That happened just like it needed to. The Pistons have a brutal stretch of games coming up and couldn't afford to overlook the lowly Sixers tonight. They didn't. Detroit jumped out to a commanding 11-0 lead early and coasted to a victory, outside of a rough stretch for the bench in the 2nd quarter. Among Detroit's starters, the +/- numbers looked as follows: +31, +34, +27, +33, +38. This was hardly as close as it looked. With a young team like the Pistons have, there is no such thing as a guaranteed W. It was nice to see them handle tonight like they knew there was a chance they could lose, instead of giving half an effort and expecting to win.
- For some reason, the blowout didn't facilitate short minutes for the starters. Ersan Ilyasova was the only Pistons starter who played less than 30 minutes. This one saw SVG put his starters back in during the 4th quarter, when the Pistons were up by roughly 20 points. For a team who has been burdened with heavy minutes for their starters, what value is there in guys like Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond playing in a blowout the night before the second half of a back-to-back? Stan Van Gundy has his job (and his paycheck) for a reason, but I was puzzled by the choice to leave the starters in late. An injury to any of the aforementioned guys and the Pistons season goes on life support. No need to risk that happening in the waning moments of stomping a helpless Sixers team.
- Tanking doesn't make for a very good product. This Sixers team has one win this season for very good reasons, and they may truly flirt with setting the worst record in NBA history (the 1973 Sixers went 9-73). The problem I have with what Philadelphia is doing is that their players absolutely played their hardest tonight. They've got 15 guys on the roster who are working hard and earning a paycheck who want to win and further their careers. Their front office isn't even giving them a realistic opportunity to not be the laughingstock of the NBA. This wasn't a fun basketball game to watch, and I can't even imagine what being a Sixers fan has felt like the last few years. Even if they fetch Ben Simmons this upcoming summer, who knows how long it'll be before they can even think about a playoff berth? On a slightly different note, I really didn't think Nik Stauskas would be this lost as a pro, which is proof that homerism is a dangerous thing.
- I don't have high expectations for tomorrow night. Both Indiana and Detroit will be playing the second half of a back-to-back, as Indy handled Miami tonight, 96-83. The Pacers are one of the few teams in the league who feature a top ten offense AND a top ten defense, and they've established themselves as one of the East's top teams. Paul George has himself in the MVP conversation, which is part of why it hasn't really mattered that the Pacers are weak in the frontcourt. It's going to take a big night from Reggie and solid, efficient nights from KCP and Mook to even hang with a really good Indiana squad.
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 - Marcus Morris: Bad stuff first: Morris turned the ball over 4 times. That sums up the downside of Morris' night. He finished with 21 points (7-9 FG)(!!), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal. He did this all without taking a single shot inside the paint. I'm not a fan of the way he did it, but you can't knock that kind of efficiency from Mook in his own hometown.
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2 - Andre Drummond: Andre had a solid night, notching 18 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals in 33 minutes. However, his post-up possessions looked rough early in the game. He settled in and hit a couple nice hook shots in the third quarter, but he's very much still a work in progress offensively.
3 - Reggie Jackson: Had a productive, if inefficient, night. Finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, although he needed 20 FGA to get there and turned the ball over three times. On an encouraging note, he took 16 of his 20 shots in or right around the paint.
4 - Ersan Ilyasova: Tonight was a rare occasion where Ersan stuffed the stat sheet. He added 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks to his 15 points. Took two more charges tonight to add to his league-leading total, which now sits at 22. He's just shy of averaging a charge per game this season.
5 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: KCP also stuffed the stat sheet, but he once again struggled with his jump shot. I'm starting to lose faith in him ever developing anything resembling a reliable offensive game. A career as a role player beckons if he can't upgrade his offensive game.
6 - Steve Blake: Didn't score efficiently, but he did notch 4 assists to only one turnover. I'll take it.
7 - Aron Baynes: Somehow accumulated five fouls in 15 minutes of action. He had a really tough time defensively against Jahlil Okafor.
8 - Anthony Tolliver: Yet another subpar shooting night (1-3 fg/3p). Can only think of it as a fluke in a small sample size for so long.
9 - Stanley Johnson: It's been a few games since the rookie did anything of note. He was shooting 27.9% on jump shots coming into the night, and only made that worse by going 0-4 outside paint tonight. Someone really needs to tell him he can't shoot unless he's wide, wide, wide open.