(32-15) RAPTORS 111
- Improved effort, results to come? The Pistons were plagued by poor effort on their most recent four game road trip, which saw them lose two winnable games. While they've lost two straight (to the East's two best teams, no less), I think that the effort has been much improved from where it was about 10 days ago. So, while the results haven't exactly been encouraging, it would have been unreasonable to expect two wins against Cleveland and Toronto anyways. The only way there is damage done by these two losses is if the Pistons carry them with them into their game with Brooklyn on Monday.
- Re-establishing the defensive identity. Effort isn't everything on defense though, and the Pistons need to get back to the things that had them among the league's top five or six defensive squads for most of the first half of the season. Part of the problem of late is an inability to guard without fouling, while the other main issue has been that they're allowing too much dribble penetration. This team doesn't have enough overall athleticism to rotate successfully and/or switch on a routine basis. Re-gaining this squad's defensive identity starts on an individual basis.
- No need to panic. While the recent week and a half hasn't exactly gone as planned, the Pistons are still in good shape playoff-wise. A Pacers win bumped the Pistons down to 8th place in the East, but they sit there 2.5 games up on the Knicks and Hornets. The Pistons have much better efficiency numbers than both of those teams, have some schedule factors in their favor compared to both, and (in my opinion at least) have a better roster than both teams. If you're going to worry about missing the playoffs, keep one eye on the Wizards. Still, I'd say the main focus right now should be on seeding, not about making/missing.
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: Things were looking bleak again for Jennings early on, and then he flipped the switch in the second quarter. From there, Jennings dropped 22 points and generally helped the Pistons keep their heads above water while he was on the floor. His energy was good and his shot creation was just what this bench needs. More of this, please.
2 - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: KCP's growth offensively this season has been a large part of this team's success. Yes, he was only 1-4 from three tonight, but he was aggressive getting to the basket and made good decisions on when to pull up and shoot the comfortable mid-range shot he likes. He could've defended DeMar DeRozan better.
3 - Aron Baynes: Baynes' rim protection is the most underrated part of his game. It's night and day between when he's on the court and when Andre Drummond is out there. Offensively, it took Baynes a bit to get going, but he ended up with 11 points on 7 FGA. He was an important part of the late charge by the bench crew.
4 - Andre Drummond: I thought Drummond's effort was there again tonight. He played a foul free, productive first half. Then the second half hit and Drummond got officiated out of the game. He had a little trouble with Bismack Biyombo's tenacity, but some of the calls against him were just pure garbage. He finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in 28 minutes. Not bad, not great.
5 - Reggie Jackson: Reggie's had much better nights in a Pistons uniform. His numbers weren't atrocious, and he certainly didn't play a terrible game, but Detroit needs more consistency from their franchise PG.
6 - Stanley Johnson: Stanley played aggressive, and his energy helped fuel the comeback late in the fourth. That being said, his one-on-one defense wasn't as good as it usually is and he was part of Detroit's fouling problem. The rookie committed 5 fouls in just 28 minutes of play.
7 - Marcus Morris: Mook struggled with James Johnson in the first half, and never really got his own offense going. On the bright side, he was the only Piston not to commit a foul tonight. *waves tiny flag*
8 - Anthony Tolliver: Got pulled into starting duty by Ersan Ilyasova's groin injury. Played 35 minutes and was a non-factor offensively.