This game ended up being much closer than it needed to be, (And even though the Pistons did quite thoroughly dominate down the stretch, this game was closer than the score indicated.) But the Pistons still come away with the win.
Reggie Jackson: Whoever the guest was on the Lowe Post (Zach Lowe's podcast) said that "Jackson is as close to unguardable as anyone who can't really shoot has ever been." I personally think that is underselling Jackson's shooting a bit (he is actually shooting a respectable 35(ish)% from 3) but you saw exactly what he was talking about on the last few possessions of this game. After seeing Drummond take over the game for a pretty long stretch, but then pick up his 5th foul. Jackson decided it was his turn, and got to the hoop and scored like 3 or 4 straight buckets. Even though it was not an incredible box score game for him he was really good. However there is one thing that was big in the box score. A big fat zero in the turnover column. He was in some foul trouble early in the game and as a result only played 28 minutes, but in the second half he was close to dominant. Really good game from him. Hopefully he has put his horrible turnover problems behind him now and gotten out of that funk.
KCP: Not a great game for KCP, but also not a great matchup for him either. He only scored 8 points on 10 shots, and also had a hard matchup for him on the defensive end with Wiggins. I was honestly a little bewildered as to why the Wolves did not feed Wiggins more. He was not hitting everything, but he was scoring pretty well (21 points on 17 shots) and it was pretty clear that KCP was too small for Wiggins when brought inside. KCP was not bad on D by any stretch, but the bad matchup for him meant that he could not have his usual awesome impact on the defensive end. He still did nothing that hurts the team while he was on the floor, just he didn't do a ton to help either. Oh yeah I'm also officially starting to worry about his 3 point shot. He only took 2 of them, but he missed both. And he seems to be back into his rookie year habit of regularly taking a couple dribbles into the arc before a shot instead of taking the 3. (although he has shot pretty well on those) Not his best game tonight, but that was forceable. Greater Morris: This is more like it for Mook. He took advantage of mismatches and did his thing in the midrange, and also got to the line. And also had some really nice defensive plays. (And at least 2 bad defensive plays.) He also is still freaking brilliant in the open floor. I still don't think I have seen him make anything other than a really good play when he gets on the break. Mook also logged a double double with 11 boards. Which was needed with Drummond being regularly dragged from the paint by KAT. HOWEVA, with all that said, I am also officially starting to get worried about his 3 point shot. He went 0/5 in this game. And 2 of those were end of shot clock chucks that were not even remotely his fault, but still. Both he and KCP need to freaking hit some 3s. And soon. Still a really nice game from Morris though.
Ersan Ilyasova: Had another goofy game of only playing 19 minutes, but in his short time on the floor he was pretty good. Hit a couple of shots, took a charge. Basically the things we expect from him at this point. He also remains hot from deep which is really important considering how bad everyone else has been from deep. But he was certainly fine, just did not play enough to have a huge impact. Andre Drummond: Looked like he might be in for a rough night in the first half. KAT drained some open jumpers (that Drummond gave away far too easily) combined with Dre catching some early (and late) foul trouble. He went into the half with the real possibility of missing out on a double double for the first time this year. It should also be noted that was not fully engaged in the first half and it was pretty obvious. But then the second half happened, and especially the 3rd quarter. Where Drummond came to the realization that he had a 40 pound advantage over KAT and that KAT stood no chance against him. KAT all but dissapeared from the game in the second half, and Drummond took the game over for a stretch. (And pulled down a couple of rebounds right at the end of the game to get his double double.) I really hope he figures out that when going against a good shooter, to not let them take some warm up jumpers before deciding to actually guard them. Dre has shown several times that he can guard out on the perimeter with ease, so there is no reason for him to be so terrified to follow shooting bigs out there. KAT was way more energetic to open the game up and Dre got beaten several times. Fortunately Drummond showed up in the second half though. Ended up being a really nice game from Drummond, and this was also probably the best game I have seen him have from the post. KAT had no chance at all of guarding him in the post. And games like this are the reason why he has been force fed those post up opportunities. When teams try to match a more perimeter oriented guy (who is way smaller) onto Drummond, he has to be able to make them pay.
Stanley Johnson: Great game from Johnson. He played some good defense, scored some points, and HIT SOME 3S!!! He seemed to make quicker decisions, which was good, and he got to the hoop several times, and was quick to release his 3s. I still think his biggest issue so far has been that he has tried to think too much on offense. Tonight he looked more like he was just playing. And he looks so good when he just makes a choice and goes for it. If he can stretch this type of play out a few more games then I will become very optimistic about him being a useful player for the team all year.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Pressed into some extra service due to Jackson's foul trouble, and he was really brilliant. It is a crime that he only had 2 assists. He created good shots for teammates left and right. And got himself 6 points on 6 shots. (really 5 shots because one was a end of half long chuck) Even though the all bench mob had some poor results due to poor shooting, you could see how much better that group could be with someone actually capable of setting them up playing PG. It really is a shame no one could really finish any of his good passes. Also played solid defense.
Anthony Tolliver: 0/7 from the field and 0/5 from 3. I'm also officially starting to get worried about his shot. He did some of his other normal useful things. But he is a valuable backup because of his shooting, and he is shooting piss poor right now. He needs to find his shot, fast.
Aron Baynes: Tonight was really the first time that I finally understood why SVG gave Baynes a contract that has been somewhat mocked. Drummond got himself into foul trouble, which pushed Baynes into extra duty, and he was excellent. He scored a couple buckets, and also threw several really nice passes. He made several really nice defensive plays, a couple blocks as well as a perfect "verticality" contest on a Wiggins drive that was just as good a a block. He is not as good as Drummond, but when he plays like he did tonight he can allow the Pistons to survive on nights where Drummond does face foul trouble. Awesome game from Baynes.
Reggie Bullock: I really wish SVG would play him more. Bullock missed his 3 shots, and also got called for a (poor) offensive foul. But he clearly has such a good basketball IQ. And with KCP shooting the way he is, if Bullock can shoot well the Pistons will want him at times for his offense. But alas, he has not played much. And the reality is, if he wanted more minutes he should have hit one of the wide open 3s he got.
General: I was pretty impressed with KAT, and then I was more impressed with Drummond. I was also very surprised Wiggins did not get more shots. It seemed pretty clear to me that the Pistons did not really have a good option for defending him. The Pistons ball movement was super tonight. The assist totals will not show it, but it was great. With the number of wide open 3s the Pistons took, this game could have easily been a complete blowout. And if Dinwiddie/Baynes can keep being the drivers of the bench it will be huge. I also like that SVG was able to recognize that the first bit of bench mob poor play was mostly just bad luck and let them play a little longer.
What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!