(18-15) PISTONS 115
- Happy New Year!
- Avoiding disaster. The Pistons got off to an extremely sluggish start in this one, only scoring 15 points in the first quarter. They responded by not scoring less than 30 in any of the remaining three quarters. When things looked bleak, it felt like the Pistons were set to end 2015 with what would have been a crippling loss before a very tough stretch of games. Early on, it felt like the Pistons were about to see yet another loss to the Wolves, a team that had beaten Detroit in 10 straight before the Pistons won in Minnesota in November. Instead, the Pistons upped their collective effort level and put a beating on a team they should absolutely put a beating on if they belong in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
- I think Brandon Jennings is going to help this team win games. Jennings hasn't exactly looked impressive in either of his first two games back, which is to be expected. He suffered a serious injury that has, in the past, generally been a nail in the coffin of NBA players who suffer it. While he hasn't looked like his old self, and his defense has suffered from a point that wasn't good to begin with, I see enough to think that he's going to be a positive down the line. He's still been able to get where he wants to go off the dribble. Now the problem is that he doesn't know what he's truly capable of doing once he's in attack mode. Once he trusts his leg again and he gets his confidence and stamina back, I think we'll have something resembling (not replicating) last year's Brandon Jennings.
- Another murderous stretch of games. The Pistons are back in action on Saturday night, taking on the Pacers in Indianapolis. They follow that with: ORL, @BOS, BRK, SAS, @MEM, GS, CHI. The good news is, five of those eight (including @IND) are at home. The bad news is, that even when you factor in the pathetic Nets, the combined record of those seven teams is 148-100 (.597). I'll be very pleased with a 5-3 stretch, and wouldn't be shocked by 2-6. There are two nearly guaranteed losses (SAS, GS) in the mix, and only one game where the Pistons will surely be favored.
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: Drummond's had games over the last few weeks where he's posted big numbers, but this one felt like the first time he had truly put his stamp on a game in a while. Karl-Anthony Towns got his on offense, but the Wolves had no answer for Drummond on the glass or at the rim. He struggled at the free throw line once again though, going 1-7. Drummond hasn't shot above 50% from the stripe in a game since November 23rd.
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2 - Reggie Jackson: Easily won the PG matchup with Ricky Rubio, finishing with 19 points, 9 assists and 3 rebounds in only 27 minutes of action. Jackson also had a number of highlight reel plays, including a baseline drive for a dunk and a wild overhead pass to Drummond on a fast break.
3 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Scored 22 points, despite going 2-9 from beyond the arc, and did more box score stuffing than usual, adding 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. The Pistons are now 4-1 when KCP scores 20+, and 6-2 when he puts up 18+. KCP finding some kind of offensive consistency would go a long way towards the Pistons moving up the Eastern Conference standings.
4 - Anthony Tolliver: Easily the best game Tolliver has played this season. Hit 5-7 from beyond the arc, finishing with 15 points and 5 rebounds in just 16 minutes of action. This is cherry-picking, but I'm going to put it here anyways: Detroit is 7-0 when Tolliver shoots over 50% from three. Strangely enough, they're 1-4 when he hits exactly 50%.
5 - Ersan Ilyasova: Went 3-3 from beyond the arc and 0-3 inside of it. Ilyasova was the only Pistons' starter who wasn't at least a +16 on the night, as he finished -1.
6 - Brandon Jennings: Jennings is going to look rusty and slow for a few weeks; it just comes with the territory of the injury he's coming back from. He's been hesitant on offense, but he's had bigger struggles on the defensive end of the floor. He got lost in screens on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, I think his first two games back have gone about as well as we could have realistically hoped for.
7 - Stanley Johnson: Didn't score efficiently, because he continues to insist on being a jump shooter. However, he gets credit for grabbing 4 rebounds and adding 4 assists with 0 turnovers.
8 - Aron Baynes: Had a really nice offensive rebound with a subsequent powerful dunk. Didn't do much else of value on the night.
9 - Marcus Morris: One of Mook's worst games in a Pistons uniform. He wasn't aggressive on offense after a few early turnovers and offensive fouls. Thankfully it came on a night where the Pistons didn't need his offense.