Game Recap/Notes: Game #54. Pistons 92 - Nuggets 103. 27-27.

Welp. The Pistons were missing some guys, and they did ok for most of the game, but the Nuggets pulled away in the end. FWIW, the Nuggets with Jusef Nurkic are better than they have been this year (and I think they have won 5 of their last 7 or 8 now) but it was still disappointing. The Pistons have played some really good basketball this season, but have been in a rough patch lately and it would have been nice to go into the all star break with a win. Instead they drop to .500 and fall out of a playoff spot.

Box score.

Brandon Jennings: Getting the start for a sick Reggie Jackson, Jennings did pretty well. 16 points on 12 shots is a really solid mark, but he dished just 1 assist. Part of that is because SVG used some other guys as ball handlers a little more than he does with Reggie starting, and part of it is that Jennings only played 29 minutes. Still though, playing point guard and having just 1 assist is not that great. Also it should be noted that 6 (I think?) of his points were on a couple of 3s when the game was really out of reach already. And for some reason he just kind of seemed invisible in this game. I (and others I'm sure) was kind of hoping that he would have a really big game but instead he just kind of was there. But in the end he did just fine, just nothing all that noteworthy.

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Stanley Johnson: This was a rough night for Stanley. 11 points on 16 equivalents, which is really poor. The 5 assists were good but he also had 4 turnovers so he kind of evened it out there. He gets some of the credit for Gallo largely staying under control but other than that he did not have much impact on the game defensively. The reality is that he looked like a rookie again, which is ok obviously because he is a rookie. But the Pistons needed him to be really on his game until KCP came back.

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Greater Morris: Marcus may well have been the best player on the court in this game. He was really the featured guy and he came through in a big way in the absence of so many players. 19 points on 16 equivalents, 6 assists to 2 turnovers. That is a really solid freaking stat line. His defense on Gallo was generally excellent, as the refs were not quite as trigger happy with their whistles as in the last meeting which allowed Marcus to do his thing on defense. And obviously he is not this good every night, but man, as this season has gone on I have been so blown away by his ability/potential as a PnR ball handler. I want to see him run more because he really does have some chops there. Was really the lone true bright spot in this game.

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Anthony Tolliver: Starting in place of Ersan Ilyasova, Tolly did ok but not all that good. 6 points on 7 shots and 6 boards. He just can't do as much on offense as Ersan does, but he still did his thing of playing his tail off while spreading the floor a bit, and both his 3s were at a time that the Pistons were making a real push. Not a whole lot more that can be expected from Tolly.

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Andre Drummond: In his last game as a non-all star Andre had a game that is kind of hard to quantify. On offense his 15 points on 22 shots is pretty miserable, no other way to put that. Jusef Nurkic is freaking huge and it obviously bothered Andre. But outside of his scoring, he still secured 17 rebounds, threw 2 assists, (both of which were very nice passes) had 3 steals, and 5 blocks. If he hadn't needed so many shots to get to 15 points that would be an excellent stat line, but alas, he did. So that puts a damper on it. It was not his best game, but he still did ok.

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Darrun Hilliard: I continue to be hugely impressed with Hilliard, and if he keeps this up he might keep himself in the rotation even when KCP returns. 9 points on 7 equivalents, and 6(!) assists to just 2 turnovers. This guy is a 2nd round pick who had not had regular playing time at all before just a little bit ago. His defense is still pretty bad, but this dude can straight up play offense. Obviously small sample size applies here, but he is behind only Andre and Reggie in per 36 minute scoring. Dude has a full arsenal and I am now hugely intrigued by what he could be.

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Aron Baynes: 10 points on 7 shots, 7 boards and a couple of blocks. Got a little extra time playing at the 4 alongside Andre and it actually kind of worked too. (I want to re-watch it to see how well it actually worked but it did not fail miserably, and that is a combo I am interested in.) Really was just another day at the office for Baynes, he played hard, scored a few buckets, and generally was solid on the floor.

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Steve Blake: Hit a couple 3s, had 0 assists because he almost never actually handled the ball, and could not really defend anyone. Also known as Steve Blake playing basketball. At least SVG appears to have realized that Blake cannot initiate the offense so he took it out of his hands. But hey he can shoot so he is totally worth having around./s

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General: SVG was pissed after the game about effort, and he's going to be pissed about that. One thing I want to remind people of, this is Stan VanGundy. He is well known as being one of the most expressive, no punches pulled, coach in sports. The Pistons were in the middle of the dog days of the NBA, they have some injuries and sicknesses going around, and several of them get played into the ground by SVG. Not that it excuses not giving 100% every night. But the reality is that this is just what SVG does, he knows that the Pistons do not have enough talent (especially on defense) to win without playing with 110% effort. So even when they are playing as hard as a lot of other teams do (aka not playing without any effort) he knows that it is not enough. So he is riding them. That's SVG. It does not mean fans should be panicking about "OMG THIS TEAM DOES NOT PLAY HARD ENOUGH" because SVG says they are not playing with enough effort. Fans should be thrilled about the Pistons having damn near the only coach in the NBA who does not pass off consistent bad effort as "its the middle of the season what are you going to do?" Rant over.