(19-16) PISTONS 115
- Meet Brandon Jennings. The Pistons controlled the action for most of the night, and you wouldn't be wrong to say that nobody on the squad played a bad game. However, the true story of the night was the stellar play of Brandon Jennings. Not solely because Jennings played so well in just his fourth game back from tearing his Achilles, but simply because Jennings was just that good. He scored efficiently, created without turning the ball over, and gave the Pistons bench a dynamic it hasn't had all year. Jennings said after the game that he hopes he's in Detroit through the trade deadline, and I agree. Any return for a guy on an expiring isn't going to outweigh the benefit of having him on such a weak bench. It would have to be a clear win for the Pistons for me to be okay with dealing him away.
- An important win in this stretch of games. After a disheartening loss in Indiana on Saturday night, and with an important matchup with Boston looming, the Pistons got the job done in a pivotal game on Monday night. The win pulled them into a tie for 8th place in the East with the Magic, and keeps them right in the thick of things in the East with five of the next six against teams with records above .500. If the Pistons survive that stretch, they'll be rewarded with five straight against teams with losing records. Find a way to win three of the next six and the Pistons are in prime position to make a move in the East. Not out of the question at all, but it's going to be tough.
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 - Brandon Jennings: Jennings doesn't get the top spot because of positive feelings about a good performance by a guy who's coming off of an Achilles injury. He gets the top spot because, in my opinion, he was the Piston who did the most with his minutes. Jennings notched 17 points on 9 FGA, matched his 6 assists with zero turnovers and was a +25. To make things even better, all of his FGA came in the paint or from beyond the arc. The only way to describe Jennings' play is "spectacular".
2 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: KCP also played a really impressive game, but he did his work at both ends of the floor. Defensively, KCP was the main culprit in holding Evan Fournier, who's having a breakout season, to 0 points in 26 minutes on 0-6 shooting. Offensively, KCP turned in an efficient night, notching 21 on 7-12 shooting, including 5-8 from beyond the arc.
3 - Andre Drummond: Drummond was dominant early on, but he falls behind Jennings and KCP for not maintaining that dominance all night. Despite finishing the first quarter with 10 points and 5 rebounds, on a variety of uncontested lobs, Drummond "only" notched 17 points and 12 rebounds for the night. He also struggled a little bit with Nik Vucevic, as his ability to stretch the floor to the mid-range caused Drummond to leave the paint more often than he's comfortable doing. There are a lot of complaints in this paragraph, so I should say that Drummond had an overall good night.
4 - Aron Baynes: What more can you ask for from your backup C? 7 points on 3-3 shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. The Baynger continued his strange down season from the FT line, going 1-2 and dropping his FT% to 69.0%.
5 - Reggie Jackson: Much like Andre, I thought Reggie's best minutes came in the first quarter, as it seemed like they connected on an endless amount of lobs early. It would be unfair to say Reggie played poorly the rest of the way, it's just that he didn't have a special night either. Which is fine, because the Pistons didn't need it.
6 - Anthony Tolliver: Tolliver's now shooting 36.3% from three for the season, which is the good news. The bad news is that he's shooting 36.9% from the field in total, which, you know, woof. I'll take the outside shooting though; the bench has a different dimension when Tolliver is hitting.
7 - Marcus Morris: Didn't have a bad night, but Detroit obviously needs more than they got from him on a nightly basis.
8 - Ersan Ilyasova: The novelty of his charges has worn off, and at this point, he's just a guy to me.
9 - Stanley Johnson: Stuffed the stat sheet with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, but it took him 8 FGA to get to 6 points. The reason he wasn't efficient? He insists on being a jump shooter; five of his eight attempts came from beyond the arc.