Game Recap/Notes: Game #60. Pistons 114 - Raptors 101. 31 -29.

Wow. While the Raptors did the Pistons a huge favor by resting Kyle Lowry, it was still an impressive win. The Pistons have played as well the past 5 games as they have all season. They are playing good defense, Tobias Harris is fitting in really well already, Reggie and Andre both have been turned up as well and they are both so good that Reggie Bullock has even looked good. These are all good things.

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Box score.

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Reggie Jackson: Not huge numbers, but they were hugely efficient for Reggie. 19 points on 14 equivalents, 8 assists with just 2 turnovers. And generally played good defense. Those numbers really are pretty indicative of what he did. He ran the offense with precision and took the right looks consistently. And he made the best of those looks. Today he was pretty much the best player he could be. Could not ask for a better performance from Reggie.

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KCP: Another nice and efficient game for KCP. 16 points on 10 shots, and 5(!) assists to boot, which I would think is one of his highest numbers of the season. Admittedly, I honestly have no idea where those assists came from. I can't recall a single one. Which is weird. So either they were not very notable assists (just pinging the ball around the perimeter and the next guy happens to hit a shot) or I might have been just not paying close enough attention. Either way though it is still nice to see him pick up a few assists. His defense of DeRozan was not all that good because that is a really hard matchup for him. But he did ok, and he made some real impact on defense anyways. Very excellent game for KCP, if he can actually make this a real string of games like this then I will start to believe that he actually has turned a corner with his offense. Real nice game for KCP.

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Tobias Harris: This dude is good, and he is fitting into the team really well. These are the sorts of games to continue to look for with him. The games where he does not have to score 20 points, but instead can be efficient, play defense, and move the ball. And that is precisely what he did today. 14 points on 10 equivalents, 7 boards, and even though only 1 assist he generally kept the ball moving really effectively. And I can't stress enough, that even though he had made some real improvements this season, he has looked way better on defense since joining the Pistons. Also, it is super cool and fun how he is able to finish with his left so well. He has played really well since joining the Pistons.

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Marcus Morris: I'm going to toot my own horn here a moment. I've said for quite a while that I wanted to see Morris take on a bigger role as a facilitator and passer in general. And he really has stepped into that role, especially since the break. There are literally stretches (often with the bench mob) where he essentially runs the point. And he has done a really good job of it too. 14 points on 12 equivalents, and 4 assists with 0 turnovers is a really solid night. Throw in that him taking over on the DeRozan assignment was a big part of DeRozan falling off after the 1st quarter. And I kid you not, every time I think about Morris' defense my mind goes through a montage of every guy who has just sort of had a bad game with Morris guarding him with "another one bites the dust" playing behind it. Like this has happened many times to me. I still don't know exactly what makes him so effective as a defender, but he is. I decided to be optimistic about him before the season and I am so happy about it because I feel smart now.

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Andre Drummond: 15 points on 14 equivalents, 18 boards, good defense. Just another day at the office for Andre. He did some good work in the post, dunked an alley oop, got a couple offensive boards. Generally doing what he should be doing. Also, even though it is pretty stupid because his numbers have not improved much. But he really does seem more comfortable at the line lately. Hopefully at some point it will really show though. Also, I just wanted to point something out. At the end of the 3rd quarter, Andre got switched onto DeMar DeRozan, who is a shooting guard and one of the better scorers in basketball. And Andre stonewalled him into a horrible shot that really had no chance. I just want to bring to everyones attention how crazy it is that a guy the size of Andre can switch onto a guard like that and absolutely stonewall him.

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Reggie Bullock: WOOOOOOOOOOO. I'm so happy for Reggie. I was hoping for him to get a chance, I have his jersey from the time he played in Grand Rapids (the game worn one. He autographed it. Cause I'm an adult.) so I have really been rooting for him. 8 points on 6 shots, played pretty decent defense, played hard. I don't know if he will actually be all that good. But could he be a wing version of Anthony Tolliver? Play 15-20 minutes per night, shoot some 3s, play really hard? I think he could. And if he can end up being able to continue being a wing version of Anthony Tolliver, that will be a huge help to the bench.

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Steve Blake: Shouts to the Raptors to resting Kyle Lowry, turning this from one of the worse matchups he would face (Corey Joseph is a really good backup PG) to one of the first times that Steve Blake was allowed to look like an NBA player all season. It should not be forgotten that he played miserably in the first half and managed to end the game with 5 turnovers in just 20 minutes. HOWEVA, despite all of this. Some credit should be given where due. In the second half he played really good ball, threw some good passes, and did his whole shooting thing really well. It is a good reminder of just how freaking good guys who are in the NBA are, after looking freaking terrible all season, he gets some rookie who has never really played and is not ready enough to get over or around screens which allowed Blake to actually get some space to do things, and suddenly he looks really good. So even though it probably won't happen again, Steve, you did pretty good today.

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Justin Harper: Got a few minutes early in the game because Tobias found some foul trouble, and he actually did good! Hit a couple 3s, ended up with 9 points on 6 shots. I don't know if his defense was good or bad, didn't seem to be too involved in many plays defensively. (Although I would guess bad, a tall guy who can shoot is in the D-League for a reason) But hey, he didn't look totally lost so that is a positive. I will be interested to see if he does ok when he plays in the future. (obviously this looking very far ahead, but if theoretically, he could prove to be capable of filling the Tolliver role of PF off the bench who will shoot and play hard, he could theoretically be a cheaper and younger alternative to Tolly if someone else were to over pay for Tolly this offseason. But once again, thats a ways off)

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Aron Baynes: 9 points on 5 equivalents, got some real good rebounds, made a couple good defensive plays. Just another game as a solid backup center for Baynes.

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Darrun Hilliard: Didn't actually play much, I wonder if he is losing some time to Bullock. (which would be kind of ironic because it went the other way earlier in the season) but either way. Just not a very good game for him, put up a whole bunch of zeros. Not a good game for Hilliard.

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Joel Anthony: He definitely was on the floor at the end of the game.

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General: Once again, Lowry being out makes a big difference here, I think the Pistons probably win regardless, but it is a big difference. Even so, another really good win for the Pistons and on the second night of a back to back. They really have turned it on. Harris is fitting in really well, they are playing hard and good defense, and most importantly, Reggie and Andre have taken it up a notch.

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So you actually predicted that they would go on a run of playing really well , why you think this? And will they keep it up?

It was admittedly, in large part just a bout of optimism. But there was some thinking that went into it. And yeah, I think the Pistons will be strong down the stretch. First off, teams with really good coaches don't often limp to the finish line. Second off, I think Tobias Harris is actually really good, and when combined with as good a coach as SVG he will be excellent and he will be playing extra hard for his new team. Third, I think that beyond the Cavs and Raptors, the Pistons have the best 1/2 punch in the East with Andre and Reggie. None of the other teams in the death match (everyone but Cavs and Raps) of the East's playoff race has 2 players as good as the Pistons do. And both Reggie and Andre will be locked in the rest of the way, and having two star players totally locked in with a good coach and at least kind of competent supporting cast generally ends up in a team that is going to play really well. But it is largely just a hunch.

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What do you think? Think they will keep it up? Can Bullock be a wing version of Tolly? Let me know! We all get smarter!

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P.S. Sorry about the lack of recap of the last game or scouting for this one. I was tired after the Bucks game and went to bed, and just sort of decided to take most of today off before the game started. So unless someone feels like paying me, I'm allowed to do that lol.