Just to make it clear in case it was not. Marcus "Mook" Morris plays for the Pistons. Markieff "Kieff" Morris plays for the Suns.
Reggie Jackson: Still had too many turnovers with 4. But it is low enough that is is ok when considering how great he was everywhere else. He started off slow shooting but he pulled it together and turned in a stellar 2nd half and in particularly the 4th quarter he was great. He made several really nice plays including a dagger 3 pointer. It was impressive to see him finish in a variety of creative ways over Tyson Chandler, and he did can a couple of jumpers as well. Also, Eric Bledsoe fouled out of the game. I don't know for sure how many of those fouls were drawn by Reggie but I'm pretty sure most of them were. It is really impressive that Jackson scored as well as he did while dealing with such a killer combo of Bledsoe/Chandler to deal with. He won his matchup with Bledsoe. And while Bledsoe did score some points, he was not very efficient and Jackson was a real part of that. I won't try and say his contract is good or bad until we know exactly how high the cap jumps and we see what other guys are making when said jump happens. But he has at very least made it look like SVG was right to put his faith in Jackson as the PG of the future for the team, Jackson has been really good on both sides of the ball. I have been particularly impressed with his defense so far this year, because he has been very shaky on defense in his career, but he has played good defense every single night so far. Great game overall from him.
KCP: Lol wow. I am almost certainly overreacting, but this might have been the most promising game of KCPs career. That may sound odd because he has put up bigger numbers before, but he only took (and hit) a single 3. Last year all of his big scoring nights were the result of him just getting hot from 3 and chucking away. He scored 18 points tonight on just 10 shots. And he scored inside the line in a variety of ways. Brandon Knight is not big enough to guard him. (and also is not a very good defender anyways.) And KCP took advantage. I have been somewhat vocal in my doubts of KCP becoming a 2 way star, and while he still has a long ways to go for that, this game (on top of the other games this season) give me confidence that he is becoming a really good two way player. (if not a star) He took advantage of a mismatch and scored a bunch of efficient points but stayed within himself. And even tho Knight scored some points, that's ok, he's a good scorer. But he was not very efficient about it. (similar to Eric Bledsoe) And a lot of that is thanks to KCP. This is the type of really good 2 way performance that is great to see. I will say again that KCP looks downright awkward and sloppy when he puts the ball on the floor most of the time. But who cares? It's working. Great game. Greater-MUTHA-FUCKIN-Morris: Ok so yea it is stupid to call him that because Kieff has been better over their careers, but everyone has always referred too Kieff as the greater Morrii. So yaknow what? Detroit vs. Everyone. Marcus morris is no longer Marcus Morris. Marcus Morris is now "Greater Morris." Oh yeah by the way he was really good tonight. He scored 20 efficient points (although a few of those, I think 4(?) was at the end when the Suns started fouling) and he also was the anchor for the bench mob. He also logged a team high 39 minutes. Straight up, this dude is good. And while it is a little unfair because the Suns knew that the trade was one sided for the Pistons, and if the Suns had gotten Aldridge it would have been good. But man, if you are a Suns fan you have to be kinda angry that you gave him up so easily. Because Greater Morris played defense on a variety of players, rebounded, and also managed to not get called for a technical foul. He was not as prolific in the midrange and scored a lot of his points on hustle plays (out in transition) and also some 3s. But he still got them. All hail greater Morris.
Ersan Ilyasova: Oddly only played 21 minutes. Not sure if this is simply the plan or if he maybe tweaked something a little bit. (I have not seen anything that indicated he was dinged up at all.) But in his time he did typical Ersan things, had great activity, took some shots, hit a few of them. But also, freaking battled Markieff Morris for points. (Perhaps in that battle he re-dinged his wrist?) And was a part of Kieff losing his cool and getting that tech early in the game. So while his impact on the game was kind of small overall since he did not play a ton, while he was on the floor he had a great impact. This is starting to become a pattern with him by the way, which is good news. He just does a lot of the right things on the floor.
Andre Drummond: I was going to make him "MUTHA-FUKIN" but then free throws happened. Like. Crap man. 2/13 from the line? That falls under the same category as the Bench against the Pacers. Even if that is going to be somewhat of an outlier, as a professional that is totally unacceptable. I am not asking him to shoot really well, but holy crap, there is literally no excuse. And its a shame, because he played a really good game tonight, and it was particularly good because it was against a legit Center in Tyson Chandler, and there was a point in the 3rd quarter that it looked like Andre was about to take over the game. And then he caught his 4th foul (which he had a legitimate beef over FWIW but then again he was challenging a dunk at the rim, those get called fouls almost every time.) HOWEVA, Andre was still really good on both sides of the floor. He has shown so much growth particularly on defense. And this is exactly why he needs to hit a few free throws. The Pistons cannot afford to take him out of the game for any crunch time possessions. The broadcast showed a good graphic for this, but the reality is that Drummond has arrived. He is a star, and you need to think of him as you think about LeBron with the Cavs. (Andre is not as good as LeBron obviously, and you can insert any other star and his team there.) In that any time he is not on the court you should hold your breath and hope that the team can hold it together until he comes back. They were able to do it tonight, but he is easily the teams best player. They need him on the floor. But, even with his free throws, he did play another good game. Although I think this was the first time this season where he was not the best player on the court. (Although he was still pretty close.)
Anthony Tolliver: He did not shoot all that well, but he did all the other things he does and was awesome on his effort in particular with his defense of Markieff Morris. Morris got some buckets and had a big second half, but him on Tolly should be the sort of mismatch that creates HUGE dividends. (think about Greater Morris against Snell on the Bulls a few nights ago.) But it was not because Tolly freaking battled his ass off. It is a little weird because he is totally incapable of creating his own shot, and also is not usually that good on defense, but so far this year he has probably been the teams best bench guy. Also, he is just so easy to love. I freaking love Tolly. Really good game tonight, and his activity cannot be overstated.
Stanley Johnson: He did not put up any big numbers, but he played a great game. It was a nice bounce back. He made a few nice offensive plays, and although he had a few moments where he did stupid rookie things, he is in fact a rookie so no surprise. For the first time this season however, you could see his true potential as a defender, he got tasked with some hard assignments and he was really good. He looked the part of defensive destroyer tonight. I still am in favor of him getting to spread his wings more even if it has poor results because he deserves to learn through mistakes, but he is still getting some opportunities to create and make plays." He is a role player and tonight he was a really good one. These are the sorts of games that we want to see from him. Make more good plays than "dumb rookie plays on Offense, and, actually same thing on D. Because he is so talented that when he is not doing "dumb rookie things", he is almost always doing "good basketball things.
Steve Blake: It's amazing how much better a guy can look when he hits a coupe shots. HOWVA, I still don't totally get it. He runs a pretty good offense, but he is also still an absolute turn style on D. And just to clarify something. In theory when you have a guy who is a 13 year vet with a history of being a pretty good shooter, you would look at Blake's start and figure it is just a matter of time before he starts to hit. But Blake is not just a 13 year vet. He is 36. That is super old, you don't get to take things for granted at that age. While it is entirely possible that he pulls together and shoots fine the rest of the year, it is also entirely possible that he has lost some lift/quickness/whatever that will cause him to never be much good again. (see Bryant; Kobe) Like it happens with guys. It also does not make sense because I would way rather be developing the younger guy who potentially could be hella versatile (remember that Dinwiddie is 6'6) than desperately hoping an old fart has a little bit left in the tank. But whatever I suppose. In the end, Blake actually had a decent game, although it was a little befuddling how Bledsoe did not seem to really ever truly punish the Pistons for trying to have Blake guard him. But still a decent game, and IF he has now found his shot and he shoots pretty well from he on then he actually will be much more useful. But I'd still rather see Dinwiddie.
Aaron Baynes: Nice comeback game for him. He had a couple nice finishes on plays from Blake, and he played good defense. And had a +7 in just 12 minutes of action to show for it. I'm still trying to decide how whether I like him that much, (essentially I don't know for sure if he has any useful skills beyond being freaking huge, which is ok for a backup center but he might have enough skills to be a really good backup center.) but he has pretty well shown that he will generally be just fine as a backup. Nice bounce back game.
General: Cannot stress enough how big the defense played by Ersan and Tolly. The biggest hole on this team (on paper at least) is that I have no idea how they will guard big wing scorers. (essentially anyone who is too big for KCP to check.) And Markieff has shot poorly this year, but this was the type of matchup that by almost any rights should have resulted in a huge night for Kieff. (once again, think Greater Morris against the Bulls.) And while he scored some points, it was at a rate that is acceptable. And while it does not figure to be as much of a problem since both KCP and Reggie can defend. But it was good to see solid defensive performances from both guards on a pair of really skilled opposing guards.
This game was good proof that sometimes the answer is just having guys not play like crap, which was the case for the Bench. Guys just played better, and I don't know how much the staggering of minutes (which was really just sticking Greater Morris into the Bench mob instead of Reggie Bullock) had to do with it as much as guys just played better. Also, speaking of Reggie Bullock. Damn. He obviously has no one to blame but himself because he freaking air balled 2 easy shots against the Pacers, but I don't know how I feel about pulling him from the rotation all together. He will almost certainly get another chance, but that is hard. And part of it is that he is another young guy that I would like to see if he has any game. I just wish they could find him some time somewhere. Also, while I am not at all saying the Pistons have to be the Spurs and play no one 30 minutes. But it is pretty well proven at this point that keeping guys minutes down has real benefits. So I would give SOMEONE a chance there and either keep a 10 man rotation or balance it out a little bit so as no one has to play 39 minutes.
Lastly, isn't it kind of nice to be on the good end of "can't believe they gave up that guy for nothing" scenario?
What did you think of the game? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get Smarter!