The Pistons got back on track last night with an excellent all around win. They took a 4-0 lead out of their first possession (Andre free throw, KCP 3) and never lost the lead, and it was by double digits for most of the game as well. The Pistons defense was back in top form and was suffocating all night.
This game really is a great example of what Ish is as a player. He may not put up eye popping numbers, 11 points on 14 equivalents and 8 assists against 2 turnovers, but he absolutely controlled the game and I would guess that anyone who watched would say he played nothing short of brilliantly on the offensive end. That's just the sort of player that he is. He also was wonderful on the defensive end once again, and it continues to be a wonderful surprise from him, and he finished with 3 steals on the night. He hounded the Denver point guards the entire night and both Mudiay and Nelson were clearly frustrated by the end of the night. Wonderful game from Ish.
KCP found his shot in a big way in this game, and the Nuggets had trouble sticking with him so he got the good looks that he needs. He was straight fire in the first half where (I believe) he did not miss a single shot, they stuck closer to him in the 2nd half and he also got a wee bit greedy on a couple of his shots to finish with a still solid 13 points on 11 shots, but once again was a sign of how he needs to cut out like 3 of those shots each game. Still though, it was nice to see the ball go through the hoop, and his 3/6 night from 3 has him at 35.5% on the year from deep which is about where he should be given the shots he takes. He didn't have a huge impact on defense because Denver does not sport particularly scary offensive shooting guards, but he certainly was a good cog in the Pistons impressive defensive performance. Rock solid night for KCP.
A very even performance for Morris, he never forced anything and his buckets were spread out quite a bit, to finish with 15 points on 12 equivalents along with 6 boards and a team high +22 on the night. He did his thing in isolation against mismatches and was a good cog in the offense otherwise. Defensively he was rock solid in the team defense department, and while I don't want to give him too much credit for holding Gallo in check because he still finished with a decent line, but Gallo never really did get going and Morris should get at least some credit for that. Good game for Morris.
Bit of a quiet/off night for Tobias with just 9 points on 11 shots to go with 4 boards and a pair of blocks. But the low shot count is indicative of the fact that the Pistons didn't really need him too much. Tobias is most useful for the Pistons as the guy who can get hard buckets when the offense breaks down or opponents play good defense. But the Denver defense was fairly leaky all night and other guys were getting the job done. Defensively his pair of blocks were impressive and he was, like the rest of the Pistons starters, very good as a member of an excellent team performance on the defensive end. Bit of an off night for Tobias, but nothing to worry about because the Pistons didn't need more from him.
Regardless of opinion on his benching last game, he responded to his coach's call for higher effort tonight. Andre was straight up dominant and there is no other way to put that, 19 points on 15 equivalents, including (drum roll) 7/11 FROM THE LINE!!!!!!!!!! and he also snagged 20 boards, and if it had not been such a comfortable lead and he had finished the game he would have almost certainly finished with a 20/20 game. And the best part of his offensive performance is that his high number of free throws was not because of hacking, but rather because he was aggressive on offense and drew the fouls. He was just a load that the Nuggets couldn't really handle on the offensive end.
Defensively he was wonderful as well, recording a steal and 3 blocks. He altered shots at the hoop, was everywhere in passing lanes and generally walling off the paint, and keeping Nurkic largely in check the whole game. Simply put, it was a dominant two way performance from Andre. And also, as stupid as it can be when Blaha and Special K talk about how “They look good” when he shoots free throws, this season it has actually been true. We will see where his final percentage ends up (I believe my official prediction I made on a podcast was mid to high 40s, which would be a huge improvement on last year) he has clearly improved by the fact that he has only had a couple of misses that were comically bad. He currently sits at 48.5% on the year.
Leuer continues to be the Pistons 6th man, playing 28 minutes and he made good use of those minutes, scoring 15 points on 11 equivalents and dishing 3 assists. He also was decent on the defensive end getting a steal and a block, but when he was put against Gallo he was pretty clearly overmatched and caused the only time that I was really at all worried about the game when Gallo hit a few shots in a row to make me worry that Gallo would catch fire and bring them back. But alas, Gallo did not catch fire and the Pistons were fine. I personally would rather him play a few less minutes and let Stanley play a few more, but Leuer certainly has earned the minutes he is playing. He does lots of things that help your team and his only weak spot is in terms of defensive ability where he just does not always have the quicks or strength to hold up in some matchups.
7 points on 7 equivalents, 6 assists against 2 turnovers. Didn't ruin the defense. Nice game for Beno. He has pretty much put to rest the main worry I had about him which was that perhaps his quickness that he relies on quite heavily had left him so that he could no longer get to his spots with regularity. But while he may not be the speediest dude, he still can get to his spots in the midrange and has pulled out several nice moves to get to the hoop. I am totally perplexed why the Heat cut him.
Finally. 12 points on 8 equivalents in 18 minutes is not some breakout performance. But it was nice to see Stanley finally get a few to fall. Everyone around the team has been firm in saying that nothing has been wrong with him, he is just playing a bit less and is being asked to do different things, but even so, it was not encouraging the way he has struggled to get involved in the offense. He also continues to be a really disruptive defender and looks much better at things like off ball movement and avoiding screens. Hopefully he will stay out of offensive funks now though. And as I said with Leuer, I kind of wish Leuer would play like 4 fewer minutes per game and give those minutes to Stanley just because I feel like Stanley is good enough to warrant it.
Not a great game for Baynes. Just 0 for 1 from the field and 3 rebounds. He did get 3 blocks, although I'm not totally sure where those came from. Maybe I am just blanking on it and he actually had a really good defensive game, I just didn't really see that. Regardless, it wasn't like he missed a whole bunch of shots or anything. He just didn't really do a lot of positive stuff I guess.
BOBAN, Hilliard, Ellenson, Gbinije:
They got in with a few minutes to go. Boban hit one shot and missed another, also drew a double team which started a nice string of passes to end with a Udrih 3. Gbinije and Hilliard both missed a shot. Nothing really to see here.
Another wonderful defensive performance has the Pistons sitting with a defensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) of 95.5, which is very good, and this is the first good defensive performance against a team that is actually a pretty good offensive team in the Nuggets. The Pistons have to be feeling pretty good as the head west for a bit sitting at 4-2 and all 4 wins being in impressive fashion. They head into a more difficult stretch, playing the Clippers, Suns, Spurs, and Denver in that order, and it will be interesting to see how they do as both the Clippers and Spurs are legit contenders, and Denver will be on the 2nd night of a back to back. They should be able to handle the Suns, but it is entirely possible they go 1-3 on this trip. Either way, they look very good coming out of the first little section of the season.
What do you think? Should Stanley get a few more minutes or is he ok how he is? Can KCP cut out those bad few shots per game?