(22-18) PISTONS 113
- First things first. The Pistons taking it to the reigning champs was the side story tonight. The real deal was the retirement of Ben Wallace's number 3 jersey, in a well-earned ceremony featuring a litany of Pistons greats. A packed house saw Big Ben's career get its proper due, highlighted by a group of his old teammates, former head coach Larry Brown and some of the Pistons' all-time great players. Other than a rather awkward three minute speech from owner Tom Gores, the night provided an energy to The Palace that's been missing over the last eight or nine years. It was great to see Ben Wallace receive an honor, which he worked so hard to achieve, in front of his friends, family and fans. I'm already looking forward to Chauncey Billups' ceremony on February 10th.
- An all-around enjoyable evening. The jersey retirement festivities were a joy on their own, but the Pistons play didn't disappoint either. Outside of a six or seven minute stretch at the end of the first quarter, the Pistons looked like they were the reigning champs, not the Warriors. Steph Curry got loose for 38 points, Klay Thompson topped his season average with 24, and it just didn't matter. Festus Ezeli was the only other Warrior in double figures, as Draymond Green, Harriosn Barnes and Andre Iguodala combined to go 3-21 from the field. The Pistons got a spirited effort from just about everyone on their roster, as the team fed off the energy of the night's ceremony. That led to frustration for the Warriors, who were hit with three technical fouls on the night, a number that easily could have been higher with all the whining and shoving they did in the second half. The Pistons got under Golden State's skin tonight, as this game showed that the Pistons are capable of beating any team in the league when they play inspired basketball.
- On the Warriors. It didn't look like they were taking the game seriously for the first few minutes of the first quarter. Even when they did wake up, the Pistons obviously didn't get their best effort. I'd also like to add that there isn't a team in the league with a greater sense of entitlement than this Warriors team. They seemingly expect every call and it got annoying watching them parade around in front of the refs all night. All NBA teams do this to an extent, but this Warriors team takes it to another level; Curry and Green, who each got T'd up, are the biggest culprits. On that note, Green's dollar store tough guy act got old fast in the fourth quarter. His unnecessary shove of Drummond after a free throw, and his constant jawing in the big man's face were annoying and unwarranted.
- The upcoming stretch. The surprising win over the Warriors moves the Pistons into a tie with the Pacers for 6th in the East, at least until Indy plays in Denver on Sunday night. Detroit gets one more home game, a Monday MLK Day matinee with the Bulls, before heading on a tricky four game road trip. The Pistons will face the Rockets and Pelicans in a back-to-back before heading to Denver and Utah to wrap up their travels. Finding some way to go 3-2 over the next five games would be great.
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 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: KCP drew the unfortunate assignment of tracing Steph Curry's path around the court on defense. Curry ended up with good numbers, but I don't think KCP did a bad job hounding him and making him work for his points. He didn't let that hold down his offensive game either, as KCP was automatic in the mid-range tonight. Despite a 1-5 performance from beyond the arc, he finished with 20 points on 9-16 shooting. For the math deficient, that's 8-11 shooting inside the arc.
2 - Reggie Jackson: Major negative out of the way first: Reggie struggled to stay with his man in off-ball situations defensively. He took a lot of bad routes that led to open GS jumpers, whether he was on Thompson, Curry or otherwise. That being said, Reggie scored 20 points, albeit on 20 shots, and dished out 8 assists against 0 turnovers. He hit a few shots late in the fourth that forced Luke Walton to pull his starters, and was just generally satisfactory throughout this one.
3 - Aron Baynes: Technically, Baynes shouldn't be in this list, because he only saw 9 minutes of action. *Stephen A. Smith voice* HOWEVA, Baynes was electric in his limited time, scoring 12 points on 6-6 shooting, grabbing 4 rebounds and blocking 2 shots, one of which was the play where he took a knee to his thigh, ending his night. Baynes was a major factor in turning the energy of the game around after Golden State took the lead back at the end of the first quarter. His contract looks like less of an albatross as we progress further into the season.
4 - Marcus Morris: Missed a couple shots early, but appeared to wake up after either Harrison Barnes or Andre Iguodala decided it was a good idea to trash talk the Pistons' resident badass. Whatever it was that got Mook's motor running, it was long overdue. This is the best game he's played in the last two weeks. 16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks.
5 - Ersan Ilyasova: Had a rare profitable pump fake that lead into one of his two triples on the night. Also had a couple blocks, one of which came on Curry late in the game with Golden State trying to get back into the game.
6 - Stanley Johnson: Hit a big three from the top of the key in the fourth quarter. Wasn't lit like he was against Memphis on Thursday, but the Pistons didn't need him to be.
7 - Andre Drummond: There was one person in The Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday night who didn't understand the "why" behind Ben Wallace's jersey retirement. For anybody who watched Big Ben play or who even knows the minimal details of his story, they know that Ben Wallace built his career on effort, intensity and pure desire to be the best he could be. Ben Wallace's jersey is in the rafters because he earned it; he wasn't born with elite talent or size. So, to watch Andre Drummond put out the effort he did for 3/4 of this game was an insult to Ben Wallace on his special night. There's no way to describe his defensive play in the first three quarters other than to say it was garbage. He did perk up late when Draymond Green decided it was time to break out his tough guy act (emphasis on act), but it wasn't enough to rescue his night in my eyes. He finished with numbers that were pleasing to the eye, 14 points, 21 rebounds, 3 blocks, but if you saw the game, or even dig a little deeper in the box score, you know that the Pistons' franchise cornerstone didn't give it his best go tonight. Disappointing to see on a night where the Pistons honored Ben Wallace for his effort and work ethic.
8 - Anthony Tolliver: Capped the action with a nice baseline jam, but was otherwise irrelevant for most of the night.