(25-22) PISTONS 106
- As far as losses go, I'll take it. It was clear from the start that the Pistons didn't bring their "A-game" tonight. They didn't do a good job of staying in front of the Cavs on the perimeter, rotated poorly upon penetration and got beat up on the glass. That being said, I didn't think the Pistons played as poorly as this one looked on the surface. For the most part, Detroit gave a great effort. Andre Drummond upped his intensity, the bench did their best to keep the Pistons in the game, and Stanley Johnson had arguably his best game of the season. That the Pistons missed a few bounces here and there, failed to make critical stops and just didn't have an elite answer for an elite opponent is okay. It's much better than the lackluster losses they posted in Denver and New Orleans.
- Stanley Johnson's best game yet. The Pistons rookie came away from this one having defended LeBron James admirably, along with 15 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. He earned his burn at both wing spots, as it was hard to keep his energy off the floor. When Stanley Johnson is aggressive with the ball in his hands like he was tonight, he's hard to keep away from the rim. Thanks to that, Johnson scored six points at the rim and minimized the head-scratching, quick-trigger threes I've grown to hate from him. If you're looking for a silver lining in the loss, this is one.
- Beat Toronto. With the Heat barely seizing a road win in Milwaukee and Boston putting a hurting on Orlando tonight, the Pistons sit firmly in 7th in the Eastern Conference. They're a game back of Miami for 6th, and only 1.5 games back of Atlanta/Boston for 4th in the East. Getting an unexpected win in a back-to-back over Toronto tomorrow would be massive.
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: I've been pretty critical of the big man for his effort lately, but I thought he brought his best early and often in this one. He was engaged offensively, defensively and everywhere in between tonight. Maybe the All-Star bid has rejuvenated him? Hope his mood isn't that subject to influence, but I'll gladly take this kind of performance from Dre on a nightly basis.
2 - Stanley Johnson: The rookie has put up gaudier numbers than the 15 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds he mounted tonight, but I think this was the best game of his young career. He defended LeBron James aggressively, attacked the rim offensively and made good decisions with the ball. Nine of his ten FGAs came inside the arc, and five of those nine came inside the paint.
3 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Drew whichever player the Pistons didn't want Reggie Jackson guarding on the perimeter all night. That mostly meant a tough matchup with Kyrie Irving, who had a solid night. KCP's a great defender, but guys with elite lateral quickness and/or good handles do pose problems for him. Offensively, KCP was okay, scoring 19 points on 15 FGA.
4 - Marcus Morris: Got chippy with LeBron on several occasions, which is always something The Palace crowd is going to enjoy. Otherwise, it was a pretty average to below average night for Mook.
5 - Ersan Ilyasova: Came out hot again, scoring six of Detroit's first 12, but cooled off immediately and only finished the game with 11. Struggled defensively with Kevin Love, both inside and out.
6 - Reggie Jackson: Struggled with his decision making for most of the night, marked by some questionable shots late in the game and three turnovers. Reggie has much more to offer than this.
7 - Anthony Tolliver: Also struggled defensively against Kevin Love. Also like Ilyasova, he was pretty pedestrian offensively.
8 - Brandon Jennings: Been a few games since Jennings gave the Pistons much of anything in the way of scoring. He needs to start looking for his own shot more often or the Pistons might as well start putting Steve Blake back out there.