Game Recap/Notes: Game #37. Pistons 103 - Nets 89.

Sorry about this going up so late: I apologize. I was playing Battlefront with a bunch of people and decided I would keep playing and then just watch the replay at midnight. Then at midnight I switched to cable and something was (and still is) up with my cable. And then today there was some sumo wrestling to watch. Fortunately today I was able to watch the replay on league pass. (which I did not think they put up local games so soon. Last year the wait for a local game was 3(!) days. But hey, I'm cool with a one day wait.) So yeah, sorry about that.

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A big round of applause: This game marked the first time all season that the Pistons used a different starting lineup from their opening day starters. They were easily the last team in the NBA to use a different starting lineup as well. Obviously part of that is just injury luck, but still. It is a testament to the team that SVG has put together and is always a good sign when your team is one of the most stable in basketball.

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Was a little shaky at the start of the game, and the Nets generally managed to stay within striking distance until the end of the game. But in the end, it is hard to ask for a whole lot more than what the Pistons gave, a very solid end to end win over a bad team on the second night of a back to back.

Box score.

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Reggie Jackson: The Nets PG rotation is really bad. Especially on defense, and Reggie took full advantage. Neither Larkin or Sloan had really any chance to keep in front of him, and although Brook Lopez is better defensively than his reputation, he is not good enough to make up for many mistakes. Reggie generally lived in the paint as a result, and it is fairly well proven at this point that if you allow Reggie to live in the paint, he will kill you. Reggie ended the night with 23 points on 19 equivalents and 8 assists to just 2 turnovers. He controlled the game all night, just an excellent game.

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KCP: Kind of came crashing back to earth after a few very good ones in a row. Just 5 points on 8 shots, however he did augment the poor scoring with 4 assists so that was good, although the 3 turnovers makes it less good. He also provided his usual excellent defense, with 3 steals and generally being in the hip pocket of whomever he was tasked with guarding. In the end his offense was not good, which was a little disappointing because with the absence of Morris I would have hoped he could have managed a little extra, but he played his brilliant defense and did not take a whole bunch of bad shots to be a huge issue on offense. So a fine game, even if it was not all that good.

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Stanley Johnson: Rough start to the night for Stanley as he missed his first 6 shots, but then he found a groove and ended up with a not quite terrible night with 8 points on 13 shots. (and 0/5 from deep) But several of those shots were as the shot clock was winding down and as such were very difficult. But really, this is a rookie who just started, and played 39(!) minutes on a playoff team, and looked like he belonged. I've made a big deal of that, but I really believe it is needed to be noted how impressive that is. I am frustrated by him playing so damn many minutes, but SVG gonna SVG I guess. Decent game for Stanley, even if his shooting was not very good.

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Ersan Ilyasova: Ersan ended up picking up the slack left by Marcus Morris being out, scoring 19 points on 19 equivalents, and going 2/5 from deep. And also was the beneficiary of the Nets sending lots of attention to keep Andre off the glass/lazy boxing out by the Nets. He ended up with 13 boards and 5(!) of them were offensive. The other big positive was his defense on Thad Young was perfectly acceptable, and that is a hard matchup for Ersan. In the end that was a very solid game for Ersan.

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Andre Drummond: 23 points on 16 equivalents is a really nice number. He scored some in transition, with almost all layups oddly enough. And also did some very nice work in the post. I loved his approach to being guarded by Brook Lopez as well. Lopez is legitimately huge, and as such he is actually fairly capable of bodying up with a guy as big and strong as Andre. HOWEVA, Lopez is not exactly fleet of foot, so Andre faced him up, and used his quickness and dribbling abilities to get by him for easy buckets. Andre only ended up with 11 boards (once again, lol, I just typed the sentence "only 11 boards" lol) and part of that is Lopez being huge, part of it was the Nets often sending an extra guy, and part was just bad bounces, I did not see much lack of effort for him in that department. Andre also played very solid defense, Lopez got efficient points because Lopez is very good (and some were scored against Baynes) but Andre battled him and is a big reason for why Lopez only took 11 shots. His 3 steals and 2 blocks are a very good showing of how good his defense was. ALSO, can we just give some props to Andre Drummond here? I typed the sentence that he used his ball handling to his advantage. Remember what this dude was like his rookie year? (not that he was totally incompent with a ball in his hands.) Andre gets a lot of crap for effort and stuff like that (and I generally think it is undeserved but that is another thing altogether.) but I just want everyone to realize how much work this dude has clearly put in to make himself a better player.

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Darrun Hilliard: Hey look at that SVG, you played one of the 2 young wing players rotting on the end of your bench and the world did not implode. Hilliard looked very solid in his first real NBA action, scoring 8 points on 5 shots, he also made a couple of very nice passes as well. To be clear, his defense is still quite bad, but he does not look nearly as lost as he did when he made one of his short stints of playing time earlier in the year so he is making progress. To be clear, he did not do anything super spectacular, but he looked like a competent NBA player, which should excite any fan. Because a second round pick who looks like he can play in the NBA at all is a good thing. Hopefully this gives SVG enough faith in him to let him play a few minutes per game to take some load off of KCP/Morris, which obviously having 2 rookies in your regular rotation is a bit of a scary thing, but I think that it is for the best given the current situation of the team. But congratulations to the rookie for playing well in his first real NBA action.

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Anthony Tolliver: Tolly had another really solid game. 10 points on 7 equivalents, and 2/5 from deep. He hit his shots tonight, and as such he was very good. He has had a real revival in his shooting since Brandon Jennings came back, and while that might be partially just him shooting better. It looks to me as though he has gotten a lot more open looks than before, and as such, Tolly's resurgence is really one of the best signs of how solid Jennings has been.

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Brandon Jennings: Only played 15 minutes, and did not score a point. But he he did throw 5 assists to still be the creator that the bench needed. (0 turnovers btw.) But in the end he did not do a ton in the game because he played so little, and this is exactly the reason that SVG needs to figure out how to get him on the floor with Reggie Jackson. Jennings is probably the 3rd best player on the team, but he isn't allowed to play with the Pistons 2nd best player. That has got to change. But for now I trust in SVG, he took it slow with Jennings' return and it appears to have paid off, so I will trust that he is waiting to bring them both out until they are truly ready to be good playing with each other.

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Aron Baynes: 7 points on 8 equivalents, 5 boards. Throw in an awesome assist to Hilliard on a backdoor cut, and you have a very solid game for Aron Baynes. Pretty much what we have come to expect from Baynes at this point, to come on and save par until Andre comes back, and occasionally even do a little better.

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General: I REALLY hope that SVG will now play Hilliard a little bit, and I still wish he would have/will play Bullock a little bit. Like just try it, the Pistons may have 2 perfectly fine end-of-rotation players rotting at the end of the bench, and both play the same position as 2 guys who are in the top 5 in the NBA in minutes played. But regardless, this was a very solid win for the Pistons. Jackson and Drummond were both excellent, and pretty much everyone else was good. The Pistons had one of the more difficult schedules in the NBA for the first couple months of the season, and now it is easing up a bit. (Especially in the regularity with which they are playing their games.) In theory the Pistons have a decent chance to get up a bit in the standings and put some distance between them and being out of the playoffs. Cleveland is starting to pull away from the pack as expected, but the reality is that the East will almost certainly not stay this tight all year. Some teams will start to lose more, and the Pistons are in a decent chance to move up.

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What do you think? Think Hilliard (and/or Bullock) should be a regular in the rotation? Let me know! We all get smarter!