I need some eye bleach after that. Even if the Pistons had not blown it, that was horrible. That was like going to a high school football game between two really small high schools where all the coaches are whichever teachers don't have anything better to do and both teams have like 14 guys total on the team. Yuk.
Reggie Jackson: Let me start off by clarifying, I like Reggie, I actually really like him. I think he is a really good player, and I think that in a year or so, when he is fully settled into his role, he could be awesome. But wow, this was awful. I am still not convinced that he is actually hurt still, he is wearing a noticeable brace type of thing on his leg still (all the way back from the Golden State game) and while he has had some really nice games since then, he has still seemed a little off as far as his relentless attack of the basket. And I also recognize, (and so should you) that he is in a hard spot because he has to create almost every shot this team takes when he is on the floor. (he is 9th in the NBA in usage, right behind Blake Griffin and right in front of Dwyane Wade) HOWEVA, he needs to play smarter than this. For example, when he gets the ball in the midrange and he takes a couple dribbles and tries a step back jumper, unless the shot clock is about to run out and he needs to just create whatever he can, that cannot happen. First off, he is just not very good at it. Second off, Jackson is just a awesome driver and finisher that he should never settle for that sort of look. He should take jumpers when the opposing defense gives him the shot, but not other than that. And even though he was not the only person who really struggled tonight, 9 points on 20 shots. That is the reason the Pistons lost, I've said this several times at this point, but the Pistons are as good as Drummond/Jackson, when both those guys are on their games the Pistons can play with anyone, if either are off they can lose to anyone. (Worth noting that Jackson did manage 9 assists to 3 turnovers which is a pretty decent number) Also, holy crap did he screw up the last possession. I would have to go back and look but off the top of my head I would say this is his worst game this season. And I am pretty convinced at this point that he is actually playing hurt.
KCP: Really solid outing from KCP tonight, he scored 20(!) points on 17 shots, (although he took 10 free throws so it would be more like 21-22 shot equivalents) and also played his usual stellar defense. Hit 2/5 from deep as well, which is not awesome but still good to see him knock a couple down from outside given how much he has struggled this season. One thing with him, I am not sure what to think of some of his new found aggression in attacking the hoop. I love that he now is at least a threat to score inside the arc, and I am in favor of some of the players on the team spreading their wings a bit to see if the Pistons can find literally any consistent source of offense beyond the Jackson/Drummond PnR. But I'm starting to think that maybe KCP should tone it down just a bit on the full head of steam attacks to the hoop. He is a good athlete, but he is still not all that big, and there are a lot of times that it shows. He drew a bunch of fouls this game, which has very real value, but he still shot 6/17 from the field. Once again, I am all in favor of honestly anyone on the team taking some chances to see if they can find any source of offense beyond Jackson/Drummond, and KCP is one of the better bets on the team to be able to provide it. But I think he should maybe start to try and be a bit more selective when attacking. He is just not strong/good enough a finisher to take on well prepared defenders at the hoop. Although perhaps he will improve if he keeps attacking.
Greater Morris: Ouch, 7 points on 10 shots. And also I am pretty sure that tonight was the first time all year that he did not shoot a single free throw. He was just off tonight really, got a couple of good looks out of isolations early in the game but just missed them. He did have 3 steals and a couple of good passes, but this is yet another example of how, despite all of the things he does that help the team win, when he is missing his shot he is not very good. This was especially disappointing because it had looked like he had found his shot the past couple games. He did make a couple of really nice plays towards the end of the game, but he was also partially culpable for Thad Young's super efficiency. Not a good game overall, but mostly because he just missed his shots, because most of his shots are ones that I am ok with him taking.
Ersan Ilyasova: I wish he would be a bit more trigger happy from deep. He only shot one 3 tonight (which he missed) but he did manage to hit a few shots inside the arc. He did not play a ton but he did all the typical Ersan stuff, hit a couple shots, hustled hard (including a couple really good rebounds) and also struggled to defend his guy. Although towards the end of the game he got absolutely screwed by the refs, even if Young did not commit a charge, Ersan did not cause Young to fall over which ergo makes it a travel. Which really stinks because Ersan really made an excellent defensive play after struggling to stop Young all night, but it did not pay off. I do like that he is being a little bit more willing to shoot inside the arc, but I want him to shoot a bit more outside it as well. It is a hard line to walk due to the obviousness of that he should not take bad shots, but I think he has a high enough release to shoot with a bit less space than he usually does right now.
Andre Drummond: 20 points, 18 rebounds. Good night from Drummond, and he had a couple stretches where he clearly threw it into high gear and took over the game which is always nice/fun to see. And he also played pretty good defense on Brook Lopez, but the bad is a farmiliar sight for Andre, 2/11 from the line. Along with Jackson's horrible night, that is a big reason for the loss. Andre needs to at least knock down 5 of those. But I'm not going to be too hard on him, he put up his numbers, contained Lopez, who as bad as the rest of the Nets might be, Lopez is really good. And he also played his tail off for a couple stretches. He had a good game, just gotta hit a few more free throws.
Stanley Johnson: Pretty nice night for Stanley, 10 points on 10 shots, including 2/3 from deep. Played some good defense, and just generally had a nice game. I still think he needs to learn the same lesson as Jackson, in that unless it is dire circumstances, he should literally never take a contested jumper. He is big, strong, and athletic, and also not that great a shooter. No reason for those kinds of shots. Obviously if he is open he should shoot, but cut out the contested pull ups and whatnot for now. Don't need those. Still a pretty decent night for the rookie though.
Maybe Not Quite Eternal Sadness: Blake actually had a decent night. Partially facilitated by SVG making sure to have KCP alongside Blake for most of his minutes to allow Blake to be hidden on defense, (which is a smart bit of coaching by SVG) but even with that, Blake cannot defend anyone. He did however get a couple of buckets and 4 assists. Like, he was not quite as horrible tonight. But then again, these are the Nets, who literally have one of the most punchless backcourts in basketball. And when he did end up having to defend the opposing PG he got killed. I really hope that Dinwiddie is still hurt, because if SVG is playing Blake over Dinwiddie then it would reinforce a worry I have had start to creep up about SVG. I think Dinwiddie is pretty clearly a better player than Blake, but Blake can shoot a little. And I am a bit worried that SVG is more interested in finding guys who fit what his system is as opposed to putting the best players on the floor. (although that is a topic for another day really.) Regardless, perhaps the concussion had slowed him more than we gave credit for and he is starting to find his footing a bit. If that is the case then he will be able to be at least somewhat competent on the offensive side of the ball. Which is much better than I could say a couple weeks ago.
Tolly: 0/5 from 3. That is really the only number that matters for Tolly. He needs to shoot, and hit, from deep to be useful. When he does not hit he is not very useful. Plain and simple. He did have one sweet offensive rebound where he straight up out jumped a dude so that was cool though.
Aron Baynes: Only played 11 minutes, and did not do a ton. He got a good bucket, missed several shots as well. Most notable thing he did was throw a very nice pass to a backdoor-cutting Johnson for an easy layup. He was a perfectly acceptable backup center.
General: I think Reggie is hurt. Like, he just is not attacking with the same effectiveness as he was before he got hurt against the Warriors. And that has exposed a lot of the holes in his game. Usually he can always count on the fact that he can get to the hoop almost at will. But he is hurt enough that he can not do that right now, which has pushed him towards some not great decisions with his shot selection. That is my theory. Even so though, it is infuriating that the Pistons looked horrible on offense all night against a team that is actually very bad on defense. And while, it should not come as a huge surprise, because the Pistons are not very good on offense, but geez. This was a bad game.
What do you think? Think Reggie is hurt? Did Steve Blake poop in your lawn? Let me know! We all get smarter!
P.S. In case you have not seen, Kobe announced that he is done after this year today. And even though as Detroit fans we all have a bit of a natural dislike of Kobe and the Lakers, which is totally fine. Regardless of whether you think he was overated or underrated, a ball hog or a genius, etc. It is undeniable that he was crazy mad good. So props to you Kobe. (and FWIW this is how I think everyone should approach all of the greats. Whether you argue with people about how good they really are or if you like their game or not. At least appreciate that they are really good.)