Game Recap/Notes: Game #15, Pistons 93 - Rockets 96. (6-9)

 Man, that sucked, again. The Pistons have now lost 4 straight, and the last two were heartbreakers that they coulda/shoulda won. And as much as the close ones suck (which don't get me wrong, they suck) they were against a couple of good teams and the Pistons played them right on par without their 2nd best player, and Reggie will be back soon. As long as the Pistons can get a couple of wins and avoid falling too far below .500 there will still be some good to take away here.

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

Ish ended up with a fine game, 10 points on 10 equivalents, 8 assists against just 1 turnover, along with some very good defense which featured a huge block is a really nice two way game for Ish. His defense continues to be a incredibly nice surprise to me, and I honestly don't know if it is my fault for just not watching close enough or if he has just improved significantly this year. Either way, Ish was running the offense pretty well, the Rockets' defense is quite leaky and Ish found the holes. There is not a whole lot more to ask for from him, although there were a couple of lobs to Andre that I think he missed. Overall he did fine though. Also, he went 2/3 from 3 which was nice to see since he had only hit 2 on the year before tonight.

 

KCP:

Man. Rough way to end the night, missing a critical free throw that would have tied the game. But still a excellent game from KCP, and I apologize for not predicting it in my scouting because I should've seen it coming. KCP is able to have success when he can get lots of space off of screens, primarily when off ball. In case you didn't know, James Harden is not exactly a brilliant defender, and is especially poor at playing good off ball defense. As a result KCP got open for a lot of good looks, throw in some luck to get a couple of bad shots to drop and you have a 26 point night on just 18 equivalents. He generally played decent defense of James Harden, although he actually spent less time against him than I would've thought, as the Pistons appeared very willing to switch others onto him so it was much more of a team effort on him than I would've thought. The only real defensive blemish was fouling Harden beyond the 3 point line twice, and even though both of them were tough calls, Harden is going to get you on those every time and KCP has to know that. One other thing, is that on the Pistons last real possession, (with like 30 some seconds left, the one that lead to his missed free throw) what the heck was he thinking? Unless SVG told them to hold on and run the clock down (which is possible, in which case this complaint is against SVG) why on earth did he run it down? The Pistons were down by 2 with 30 some seconds left, go for the 2 for 1! That does not mean they had to jack a bad shot just for the time difference, but at least try and get a look early in the shot clock so you can maybe try and win the game/get another chance to tie it potentially. But instead KCP just stood beyond the 3 point line and dribbled the clock down. Also somewhat ironically, it would've been better if KCP hadn't gotten the foul call at the end since Andre was right there to clean up the miss.

Either way, it is hard to end the game the way he did, but still an excellent game from KCP, and it is good to see him bounce back after a pretty tough game in his last outing.

 

Greater Morris:

A not so good night for Morris, 13 points on 16 equivalents is not very good, and when it is accompanied by just 2 rebounds and 0 assists it does not help. It should be stated that 6 of those points were in succession in the 4th quarter and were huge, and that he played very good defense for most of the night, but he had mismatches for a good portion of the game and just didn't take advantage of them the way the Pistons needed him too.

 

Tobias Harris:

Got into foul trouble, SVG went with other guys, and basically never went back to Tobias, who only played 20 minutes on the night. I'm pretty dumbfounded as to why SVG stuck with Leuer for so long in the 4th quarter, Tobias had 4 fouls, but at some point he needs to get back in. He is too important for the Pistons, especially with Reggie out, for him to be sitting in a close game like this. He ended up with just 9 points on 8 shots with 2 rebounds and an assist.

 

Andre Drummond:

Pretty poor night from Andre. He couldn't get anything to fall, especially from the post, and didn't look terribly engaged. Whether it was his ankle still bothering him or just effort, it was not very good. Fortunately he turned up his energy down the stretch and made several key plays on both ends of the floor and could have salvaged the game if he had hit a couple more free throws. Just like KCP, it is rough to end the game with 2 misses at the line when only down two, and even though the rest of his game had not been as good as KCP's, he had been very important to them getting back into the game down the stretch and those misses really killed it for him. In the end he finished with an awful 13 points on 21 equivalents. He also had 16 rebounds and 4 steals because even on his bad nights he isn't useless. Rough game offensively, but he still had some things go right for him, and down the stretch he locked in and played well, too bad he couldn't hit those free throws. But I will stand by this, unless his percentage plummets back into the 30s, SVG needs to keep Andre in the game at the end and let him try and hit those. Andre put in the work this offseason and it has mostly payed off so far, and he put in that work so that he could finish games.

 

Jon Leuer:

Played too long considering that Tobias only played 20 minutes, but that isn't his fault. A solid 12 points on 11 equivalents with 8 rebounds in 31 minutes. His defense was a bit lacking at times, including getting roasted by Harden on a couple of occasions, but he also blocked a Harden Jumper so props for that. He also had a monster dunk in transition which was very cool. Leuer just seems to have a way to put up decent numbers without actually doing all that much, he just sort of does his thing. I will say that a couple of his offensive rebounds should really go to Andre, because Andre drew the Houston players and just tipped it up leaving Leuer alone to get the ball.

 

Beno Udrih:

Just 3 points on 2 shots, but dished out 7 assists against just 1 turnover. So a nice night for Beno, who has been exactly what you want in a backup point guard as a consistent performer with the ability to keep your offense steady on the 2nd unit. Another solid game for Beno.

 

Aron Baynes:

2 points on 4 equivalents, and both points were free throws (he was 0-3 from the field), and he recorded just 1 rebound. And this was not a “looked better than the box score” game for Baynes. This was just another pretty miserable game for Baynes. I'm pretty much officially now in favor of SVG going back to a 9 man rotation, but cutting Baynes from it, playing Bullock at backup SG, Stanley at backup SF, and use Leuer as a PF and C with Leuer's minute count staying about the same. And to be fair, this has just as much to do with me thinking Leuer has played really well as it does with Baynes playing poorly.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Only played 10 minutes, 6 points on 5 shots, and generally did his thing. He made a couple jumpers, threw some nice passes, and played hard on defense. He even got 2 offensive rebounds on one possession to get a bucket the hard way. I hope he is in the rotation for good, particularly if it is not at the expense of Stanley Johnson.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Got 9 minutes, scored 2 points on 3 shots, had 1 rebound. It's hard to do much when you play just 9 minutes, and I'm not sure that he is actually back in the rotation, but may have simply filled in for the Tobias foul trouble. I hope SVG realizes that he is in fact allowed to use a 10 man rotation though.

 

General:

It sucks to be so close but still lose, but at least they were close. All is not lost, this team is not a mess, this team is not broken. They are just in a rough stretch without their 2nd best player. Even with Reggie they are trending down right now in all likelihood. Keep your heads up, it isn't time to panic yet. (although a loss against Miami on Wednesday might change that...)

 

 

What do you think? How about KCP's game? What rotation do you want? Why sit Tobias for so long?