What a great game for the Pistons, and especially encouraging as a bounce back from their opener in Toronto. The Magic were an absolute mess, but when a team is a mess you should kill them. The Pistons did just that.
Ish could not have really played better than he did. 16 points on 13 shots, 8 assists to 2 turnovers, and in just 26 minutes. There will not be that many games where the shot is falling for Ish like it was, but he was also getting to the hoop largely at will so it was not just a fluke. He also continued his wonderful decision making with the ball, both of his turnovers where strips from behind when he was heading onto the break and just didn't see them coming. After a bit of a rough start defensively where Payton had his way a bit, but after the quick start Payton was largely locked up the rest of the way. Ish's defense has continued to impress me in a major way. Just a brilliant game for Ish, made the right plays almost every time, and his speed gave the Magic fits the entire game.
YAAAaaaaAAAYY!! This was an excellent game for KCP, and the way the Pistons need him to play. I am of the opinion that this was KCP's best game of the year including preseason. Even the game where he hit like every 3, because he took some awful shots that game they just happened to go in. First off, the defense, for the first time this year (once again, including preseason) KCP got to go against the opponents best offensive player and it was a guy who was not too big for him in Evan Fournier, and he absolutely swallowed him up, with Fournier finishing with just 8 points on 12 shots, and I'm fairly certain that only 2 of those points were actually scored against KCP.
Offensively, KCP only scored 5 points on 5 shots, and had 1 assist. But this is the reason why we watch the film and don't just look at the box score. Even though he went 0/3 from deep, KCP played within himself, and avoided bad shots. He had one 3 in transition that was a stupid shot, but at least he was open. Even though he only ended up with 1 assist he was looking to pass the ball more often than not and helped to provide good ball movement and was essentially robbed of 2 assists to Andre on alley oops. And the passing is a continuation from the Raptors game where he threw a couple of nice passes, which would be great if that was a trend that continued. Simply put, I don't know if it is KCP or SVG making the choice, but KCP was way less trigger happy and didn't get in the way on offense while providing a huge impact on defense. This is the best version of KCP, and hopefully he is willing to just be in that role. Excellent game from KCP. (although with every missed 3 I do get a little bit more worried.)
Morris was at it again playing his game to almost perfection, scoring 17 points on 14 shots, grabbing 8 boards and dishing 3 assists. He did a good job of picking his spots, only attacking in isolation against mismatches and being a cog in the offense the rest of the time shooting 2/5 from deep. His defense was generally good as well, although he did not have too major an impact either way.
He also once again showed that he should always be the one who sticks around with the bench mob, as the Morris lead bench mob was the crew that first busted the game open, in large part due to Marcus Morris. Wonderful game for Mook, and after 2 games it seems fairly obvious that he will not be having any sort of a dropoff from last year.
Yet again, Tobias put in exactly the work the Pistons needed him to. He was aggressive early in the game and got several good buckets, he eased off the petal as the game went on and the Magic defense fell apart, but still finished with 18 points on 16 shots, 4 boards, and 2 assists, including going 2/5 from 3 in 27 minutes. Him and Morris did a good job of taking turns attacking mismatches, and showing how lethal Mobias can be.
ALSO he looks eons better on defense than he ever has in his career, the 2 steals and 1 block tell part of the story. He was active, he was everywhere, and he was a major problem for the Magic. He will almost certainly not make it due to it being such a stacked position, but he looks like an all star through 2 games. (small sample size of course lol)
I think that the hit to the head in the last game may have bothered Andre more than they let on, even if he wasn't concussed. Right from the gate his activity level was much better this game, and the first thing that I want to mention was his active hands poking the ball away. He only got credit for 2 steals, but his swiping hands gave the Magic absolute hell, there was one possession where (even though no steal) he poked the ball away 3 separate times resulting in the Magic throwing up a horrible shot. He also pretty much locked down Nik Vucevic, who finished with 7 points on 13 equivalents. Other than his defense, he did not look as good out of the post, finishing with 12 points on 15 equivalents, although he looked much better facing up and putting the ball on the floor, there were probably like 3 hook shots that he just should have eaten and thrown back outside. On the plus side, he was much more active on the glass, finishing with 20 boards, and he caused all sorts of problems to the Magic and they had to put a ton of effort in keeping him off the offensive glass, if it wasn't for a really strong effort by the Magic on that end Andre could have ended up with 30 boards. Simply put, this was the Andre the Pistons need, he was hugely active setting screens, playing defense, and going for boards on both ends of the floor. Also, he swished 2 free throws.
Leuer had a fine game, scoring 7 points on as many shots and snagging 9 rebounds in 28 minutes. He also put his length to good use, providing some real rim protection at various moments and finishing the game with 2 blocks. I wish he would have pulled the trigger a couple more times from deep, but he did fine. He may not be a big time game changer, but he is a really nice and versatile guy who helps you whenever he is on the floor. He also took a really hard fall but got up and appeared to be ok.
Got a lot more playing time, and not just because of garbage time. He had a minimal impact on offense, scoring just 3 points on 4 shots, he did have one wonderful assist to Aron Baynes though. (he had 2 assists on the night) Defensively he had a nice impact, having one impressive chase down block in transition and generally being all around nuisance. I said it a few times in the preseason, but even though he perhaps has not made any big strides offensively (which, its still very early) he has appeared to make the improvement on defense in that he is comfortable enough in the Pistons scheme that he can fully unleash himself to make some gambles and take advantage of his absurd talent, and to be honest, if I had to choose one side of the ball for him to make a big step on this year, I'd choose defense.
I think that he has already done more good in 2 games than Steve Blake did all of last year. Beno scored 13 points on 10 shots, and several of them were part of the Pistons initial run to pull away. He did a good job of getting to his spots on the left side of the floor, and he was aggressive in trying to get to the hoop, and one layup he missed left Baynes wide open for a put back dunk. Beno even looked pretty decent on defense, which was something I was not expecting to ever really say this year. He will not shoot this well every game, but he looks much better than I anticipated him to be given that the Heat cut him.
Baynes had a real nice game doing what he does best. The Magic defense had more holes in it than my Dad's socks, and it resulted in lots of opportunities for Baynes to finish easy looks, whether it was cleaning up a put back dunk, tossing in an easy hook, or sinking a short jumper, he was the best version of himself. The Pistons should thank Vogel for not going to Vuc every time Baynes was on the floor though, because that is a matchup Baynes would lose badly. Still though, it was the sort of hectic game that Baynes excels in, really nice game for Baynes.
Victory Cigars (Gbinije, Hilliard, BOBAN, Ellenson):
Gbinije got in a couple minutes sooner, which hopefully is an indication that SVG is perhaps close to considering actually playing him, but he and Hilliard did nothing of note. Boban made the crowd cheer really loud and he hit a post up jumper and missed a hook, and Ellenson hit a jumper and collected 3 boards.
If the Raptors are a miserable matchup for the Pistons (which they are) then the Magic are a great one. The Magic's best two offensive players (by a fair margin) are Vuc and Fournier. KCP can guard Fournier and Vuc has to go against Andre, they will not always be held so firmly in check as they were tonight but there will be no easy sledding for either player against the Pistons. And with both Vuc and Fournier being largely non-factors on offense, the Magic just don't have nearly enough creation to do anything on offense. The Magic's poor shooting is part good luck for the Pistons, but it was not a fluke, the Magic could not create any quality looks. The surprise was that the Magic were (for the 2nd game) an absolute mess on defense, yielding lots of open looks for the Pistons, and if the Magic don't figure out their defense they could be very, very, bad.
In the end, don't get too excited about this win because the Magic were an absolute mess, but still feel good about doing what you should do to a team that plays so poorly. On the plus side, no one had to play a ton of minutes.
What do you think? How about KCP's defense? Could Tobias steal an all star spot?