Game Recap/Notes: Game #4. Pistons 102 - Knicks 89. 3-1.

 3rd straight game where the value of continuity and excellent coaching was on full display. The Knicks had problems with off ball defense, regularly loosing track of guys for open shots, while struggling to get good ball movement on offense. The Pistons had good enough ball movement to take full advantage of the defensive mishaps of the Knicks, while keeping the Knicks offense fairly stagnant, as the Knicks stayed afloat largely thanks to an excellent individual game from Melo, and also Brandon Jennings off the bench. The Pistons won by double digits while holding their opponent to less than 90 for the 3rd straight game.

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

Ish Smith had a really nice game, once again he was not all that efficient as a scorer, with 10 points on 14 shots, but unlike last game, he was back to form with his facilitating, finishing the game with 8 assists and just 1 turnover. And FWIW, he did hit a couple of jumpers early in the game that made a difference in making the Knicks less willing to sag off. His assist numbers were a very good showing for his effective passing, he generally did his thing pushing the ball and getting into the paint with regularity and creating breakdowns. The Knicks had lots of problems trying to hold his penetration in check all game.

Defensively he did get beat by Rose on quite a few plays, but he generally played well and did get a steal in the game. He was not awesome on defense but he continued to be very good and held his own the entire game. Rock solid game for Ish.

 

KCP:

Really nice game for KCP, and for the 2nd straight game, he was the best version of himself on offense. He was used almost exclusively as an off ball guy, and the Knicks were kind enough to totally lose him on several plays resulting in easy buckets, also of course very nice to see him get some of those open 3s to fall going 3 of 4 from deep, overall 19 points on 11 shots. Also, he didn't take any shots that were stupid “omg wtf r u doing” shots. By using him off ball more they can take advantage of his better attributes of speed and a high motor, while minimizing his lack of ball handling, vision, and general shot creation. I think 9 to 11 shots per game is a good slot for him, and there will be nights like this where he finds openings and has a really efficient night.

Defensively he was fine, he did get a steal and had a couple of nice defensive plays. But he spent most of the night wasting away on Courtney Lee and other non-ball handlers, which was particularly frustrating because Rose had a couple of stretches where Ish struggled with him. But either way he was still fine. A very good game for KCP, and hopefully this sort of offensive game is just the regular for him, where he knows his role is as a finisher not a creator and does it well.

 

GREATER-FUCKING-MORRIS:

The fun thing about Marcus Morris is that even though he is absolutely not nearly as good as Carmelo Anthony, he can be for one night. 22 points on 16 equivalents, 4 boards and 1 assist. And a huge amount of the shots were “FU” buckets against Carmelo. With Andre having a bit of an off night (more on that in a moment of course) the Pistons needed tough buckets out of their forwards, and Marcus stepped up big time. It also should be noted that this was nice for Morris because he had actually been struggling quite a bit with his efficiency through 3 games so it was nice to have him get back on track a bit.

Defensively he did get roasted pretty well by Melo, but he made him work for each and every bucket. The only real complaint was that he committed a couple of stupid fouls on Melo when Melo was taking a jumper. Other than that, he did fine and made Melo work hard.

 

Tobias Harris:

Tobias had another awesome game, scoring 25 points on just 16 equivalents, including 2 of 3 from deep. He was aggressive in attacking the paint, and it paid off with 8 free throws, and Kristaps Porzingis had all sorts of trouble staying with him and Tobias straight up played bully ball a few different times getting into the paint. His 10 rebounds and 3 assists were really just icing on the cake, as he lead the Pistons to a victory (although falling short of my prediction for a 30 point game). He is doing exactly the stuff I (and anyone else) was hoping for when the word of Reggie being out came around. He has increased his volume and pushed the issue quite a bit more to get his shots, the thing that has surprised me is that he has (so far) actually increased his efficiency. It will drop (with his 3 point shot being the certain outlier so far) but his TS% is 69% (lol) which is absolutely absurd.

Defensively he played very well against Porzingis helping him to a fairly inefficient night shooting the ball until he hit a couple of open 3s, and also largely kept him off of the boards which was the thing I was more worried about heading into the game. I'm still going to hold onto believing that his position is too deep for him to have much chance as an all star, but if he wants to make it he will have to put up more games like this. He looks every bit like he is heading for a career year.

 

Andre Drummond:

Look Andre, I get it. And this is not a sarcastic “I get it.” I'm being totally serious, Joakim Noah is a bastard who is fouling you every single time you post up or go for a rebound, and the refs are letting him get away with it. If he wasn't fouling you so freaking much you are probably sitting on a 20/20 night. But take your chance to let the refs know you are displeased with them for a couple of possessions, and then get back to the game. Once again, I've got no problem with you giving the Refs some lip for a couple possessions, literally every star does this because stars are so good that sometimes the only defense is to foul them, and it is frustrating as all hell when the fouls are not called, so yeah, let the ref know he is screwing up. But Andre had a 3rd quarter from hell in this game, he let it get to his head and it really affected his play after having a really strong first half. He snapped out of it by the end of the game and finished pretty strong, but he just can't take a full quarter of that crap. Give the ref some lip, and if they are not going to change, just play that much harder. All that said, it was still a decent game for Andre, finishing with 9 points, 13 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. He went just 1-6 from the line which hurt his final box score numbers, but I will once again say that his shots were more on target than they often were last year, so hopefully he doesn't let one bad game send him spiraling and sticks with it. He was disruptive on defense all game and actually played as well on defense as he has this season for most of the game. Disappointing that he let Noah frustrate him so much, but it was well earned frustration, and he did end up pulling out of it in time to block the hell out of Noah and get a few tough rebounds to help close out the game. Just know this, the day that he has a quarter from hell and it costs the Pistons a game will not be a good recap in this space for Andre.

 

Jon Leuer:

Little bit of a rough game for Leuer, 8 points on 9 shots with 6 boards and both a block and steal. But he ended up having to guard Melo on several possessions and that ended quite poorly, and also got blown by while closing out too hard onto shooters a couple different times. It wasn't a bad game for Leuer by any stretch, just a bit of a rough one.

 

Beno Udrih:

Missed a couple of shots that he has to hit which lead to a 6 point on 9 shots night, but he did hit a couple of those goofy off balance jumpers to keep the defense honest. He also only had 1 assist but whatever, he didn't seem like he was any sort of a problem, other guys were just doing more facilitating tonight. He looked fine, just not a great outing for him, still way better than Steve Blake.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Once again, his stat line wasn't great with just 1 point on 5 equivalents, 5 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in 16 minutes. But I will say again that his defense has really impressed me, and in general the game he is playing is the sort that I want to see from him. (FWIW, 2 of his misses were on a succession of rebounds in the paint where he was fouled and they only called the foul after the 3rd try lol) He is playing in a way that he is slightly unhinged and unpredictable while still being in control of himself. He was very disruptive on defense and made several really nice plays while just sort of being a cog in the offense and playing hard. I want more minutes for him, but I like what we've seen so far.

 

Aron Baynes:
Only played 12 minutes, had 2 points, 4 boards and a block. Didn't really do a whole lot of significance on either end. He was just sort of there, on the plus side, the lack of significance extended to not doing anything really bad.

 

General:

I really wish SVG would stretch his rotation to 10 instead of 9, and hopefully once Reggie Bullock is healthy he will, but if he is going to keep it at 9, evening out the minutes so that the top guys are at 35 is better than the games where he would play guys almost 40.

The Pistons turned in another good defensive performance after struggling out of the gate. And the offense was carried by Mobias and good ball movement. Really great win, and with the Nets tomorrow on the 2nd night of a back to back, the Pistons can hopefully keep up a good start to the year of beating teams that they should beat.

 

 

What do you think? How about Mobias? Can Tobias make the all star team?