Saturday, December 19, 2015

Game Recap #28 - Pistons at Bulls

(16-12) PISTONS 147
(15-9) BULLS 144

Box Score


- WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! I'll spare you the hyperbole and refrain from telling you that this was the greatest regular season game in Pistons history.  What I will tell you is that this was the best regular season NBA game I've ever watched.  Both teams and their coaches spared no expense in going for a valuable win in the cramped Eastern Conference.  A combined six players each logged 50 minutes, and that doesn't count KCP and Pau Gasol, who played 49 and 48 respectively.  Every bit of energy on each side contributed to the outcome, as the smallest plays and whistles swung the balance one way or the other.  The 10 guys on the floor all wanted to win like it was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  Any game that goes into four overtimes is going to be entertaining.  Mix in some drama with arguably the most inept officiating crew in the league and you've got an instant classic.

- The last 20 seconds of a game is a breeding ground for horrible basketball.  When did I miss the ruling that you're not allowed to run a set play with motion and passing for the game-winning basket?  Why does every game-ending possession have to be Derrick Rose holding the ball for 15 seconds and then missing a pull-up 18 footer?  Or Reggie Jackson doing an impression of the Derick Rose thing?  I'd love to see that trend in the NBA start changing, because isolation basketball has gone the way of the dinosaur for a reason.  Why abandon the things that work just because the game is on the line?  Even if you are going to just isolate, why settle for a jumper?  Go to the basket and get a higher-percentage look or get to the free throw line.  Rant, ended.

- New rant, started.  My patience for Anthony Tolliver has run out after he went 1-4 from the field and was so generally ineffective that SVG couldn't really spell either of Ersan Ilyasova or Marcus Morris late. We're too far into the season to think that he's just magically going to start playing better.  A trade for another PF is now a more pressing need than acquiring another PG or wing.

- Brandon Jennings' return: imminent:  Jennings will make his return from an Achilles injury at the D-League level first, as he'll play for the Grand Rapids Drive tonight.  The Pistons also assigned Darrun Hilliard and Reggie Bullock for the contest, but Jennings is obviously going to be the main focus.  I'm sure he'll be on a minutes limit, but I'll be watching to see how much he trusts his athletic ability and also to see just how rusty he looks.  Steve Blake has stabilized his play recently, so Jennings can take his time, but it sounds like Jennings plans on playing on Dec. 29th when the Pistons play the Knicks.  In case you've never done it before, all D-League games can be streamed live on YouTube for free.

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/Reggie Jackson/KCP/Mook: I've fought the urge to have guys share the top spot before because I think it throws off the integrity of keeping a season-long tally.  This will probably be the only time I give in.  There's just no discerning between any of the Pistons' core four in this one.  Reggie Jackson scored 13 points in the fourth overtime.  KCP came out of nowhere to hit two crucial threes in the third and fourth overtimes.  Andre Drummond overcame some really terrible officiating inside, played almost the entirety of the four OTs with five fouls (not picking up his 6th until fate was sealed was crucial), scored the tying bucket to send the game to OT and was a general beast, finishing with a career-high 33 points, 21 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.  Marcus Morris logged an incredible 57 minutes, third most in the NBA in the last five seasons, provided some clutch scoring late and had what was, in my opinion, the play of the game, stopping Jimmy Butler late in the third OT with great fundamental defense.  Take away any one play from any of these guys and the Pistons don't win this game.  It's a core we can all be proud of, even if the Pistons hadn't closed last night.  That they did gives you a glimpse of the bright future that SVG is building.

5 - Stanley Johnson: On the downside, he fouled out in only 30 minutes, which really stung after he had come on to replace a fouled out Marcus Morris.  I think that's the only bad thing that can be said about the rookie in this one though, when you look at the big picture.  He finished with 16 points on 7-11 shooting, grabbed 7 boards and collected a steal and an assist.  He still settled for too many jump shots, but it was nice to see them go in for a change.

6 - Steve Blake: Played good minutes at both ends of the floor.  When it came time to replace the two fouled-out wings, SVG chose to put Blake on the floor over Reggie Bullock and Darrun Hilliard. Earlier in the season, I don't think that decision would have been so easy.

7 - Ersan Ilyasova: Ilyasova was by far the most frustrating Pistons regular in this one.  He missed a lot of wide-open shots, gave up rebounds on the defensive end and made a few bad decisions in the overtime periods.  Still, he had a crucial strip on Jimmy Butler and was at least durable enough to log 54 minutes.  As frustrating as he was, he's still much more enjoyable than Anthony Tolliver.

8 - Joel Anthony: Provided, as expected, good service in Aron Baynes' absence.  Didn't take any shots, but played good defense and hit both of his free throws.  Of the nine Pistons who played, he, Stanley Johnson and Reggie Jackson were the only players to shoot above 60% from the stripe.

9 - Anthony Tolliver: {}

Andre Drummond2.33
Reggie Jackson3.26
Marcus Morris3.52
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope3.59
Ersan Ilyasova5.48
Aron Baynes5.58
Steve Blake6.05
Stanley Johnson6.31
Anthony Tolliver6.64

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