Game Recap/Notes: Game #61. Pistons 81 - Spurs 97. 31 - 30

Welp. Not a terrible showing from the Pistons. They hung around for most of the game, but it was pretty disappointing. The Spurs are literally one of the best defensive teams of all time, and they freaking zeroed in on Reggie and Andre. And the rest of the guys did ok (other than KCP) but could not do enough to make up for their stars. Still, not all bad. Just bounce back the next game to prove this was just a case of "Is the Spurs. They good." I mean it really is not totally fair man. The Spurs are so freaking good defensively that they can just decide to snuff out one of the most potent PnRs in basketball and it works. Normally when teams zero in so much to the Jackson/Drummond PnR is what opens up holes in the defense for other guys to hurt teams. But KCP has Danny Green on him, (an excellent defender) Marcus Morris has Kawhi Leonard on him (one of the best defenders ever), and Harris has to go against Aldridge (another excellent defender. Also the Spurs swapped Kawhi and Aldridge quite a bit.)

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Box score.

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Reggie Jackson: This game is actually a good look into the limitations that Reggie can have. The Spurs freaking zeroed into stopping the Jackson/Drummond PnR. And without the ability to get consistently good looks courtesy of Andre sucking away defenders, Reggie was just left with not much to work with. He made a few nice moves, but without the PnR with Andre, he becomes the limited player that people talked about in OKC. 11 points on 13 equivalents is pretty bad. And 3 assists to 4 turnovers is worse. It should be noted however, that he took 5 fewer shot attempts than his average. He did not force much that was not there, and that is a good thing. Ideally this is a game where KCP has a big game, but Danny Green + the regularly scheduled miserable offensive game made sure that didn't happen. On the positive, Reggie did play generally solid defense. And remember this game when people say he is a poor decision maker who forces stuff too much. Dude was willing to take a bit of a back seat instead of force bad shots. (This is the reason the Pistons need a true 3rd option so that Reggie can do that)

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KCP: Oh dear. This was one of the worst games he has played all season. Other than a nice steal that led to an assist on the break, he was totally miserable. 4 points on 11 equivalents, 3 assists and 1 turnover is ok. But the big thing is that with the Spurs going heavily to Leonard and Aldridge, KCP did not have much chance to impact the game defensively, meaning that he was relegated to just sort of being on the court on defense, and missing shots on offense. Just when you start to think he has turned a corner he has games like this. Bad night for KCP.

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Tobias Harris: Actually a pretty solid game for Harris. 16 points on 17 equivalents when Kawhi Leonard is guarding you for most of the night is nothing to sneeze at. Tac on 6 boards and 4 assists with just 1 turnover and you've got the sort of all around versatile effort you hope for from Harris. He largely got the Aldridge assignment on defense, and he did not do all that well. But a lot of Aldridge's shots were created in the offense and were not really Harris' fault. Aldridge is really freaking good too. With the Jackson/Drummond PnR neutered for most of the night it would be nice to have seen a really big night from Harris (or Morris) but it is hard to ask for much more than he gave tonight. Solid effort, even if it would have been nice to see more.

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Greater Morris: Was probably the best player on the floor for the Pistons tonight. 16 points on 16 equivalents, 4 boards, 2 assists. And man, I freaking feel for Marcus tonight. There were multiple times where his defensive effort made me think "Wow" and Kawhi freaking hit the shot anyways. Leonard has come so far as an offensive player, and he is just capable of doing this now. Dude was on a mission, and despite some truly brilliant defense by Morris, Leonard had a big game. That had nothing to do with Morris and everything to do with Leonard.

Two headed forward monster?: In some ways this was a not good showing but in some ways it was. On the bad, the big worry of them being able to defend PFs was not resolved in the slightest tonight. Once again I don't think it was really their fault, but Aldridge (and Leonard) scored a lot of really efficient points tonight. To the point that SVG actually busted out the Andre/Baynes jumbo line briefly. HOWEVA, they both generally played good defense (especially Morris) they just happened to be going against two legit superstars. Other than that, they combined for 32 points on 33 equivalents, 6 assists to 3 turnovers, and 10 boards. And both of them were tied for high scoring for the team. Which is not so bad. I am really starting to think that the only question is whether they can survive guarding PFs.

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Andre Drummond: His 9 points on 11 equivalents are largely due to the attention paid by SA to the PnR. (and going 1/8 from the line...) But he found ways to effect the game in other ways with 14 boards, and generally playing pretty good defense. (if allowing himself to get into some foul trouble) Still though, not a good showing for him. He needs to take the next step so as even when teams zero in on him like this he can get it done anyways. (FWIW, he nearly had several more buckets on put backs that just would not drop)

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Aron Baynes: The combination of Andre foul trouble and needing to try a bigger dude on Aldridge caused Baynes to play the highest minutes of the season. (I think) And he did just fine. Oddly enough the Spurs seemed to forget about his shooting which helped him to 12 points on 9 equivalents. His defense was generally fine, even if he did little to stop the bleeding against Aldridge. Overall it was mostly what we expect from Baynes, he finished the plays that were made for him on offense, and he played hard defense. Just fine.

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Reggie Bullock: Making a case to still be in the rotation even when fully healthy. He was asked to guard Kawhi for a few stretches which is pretty unfair to him because he is way to small for that. But even so he played hard and made Leonard at least work for some midrange jumpers I suppose. 7 points on 3 equivalents is a pretty solid line as well. Hopefully he has actually found some shooting touch and it is here to stay. Because if that is the case then he should be a really solid rotation wing.

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Steve Blake: Nope.

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Darrun Hilliard: The fear of young guys playing like crap when needed to play real minutes has largely come true in Hilliard's second stint in the rotation. (After looking really solid in his first stint) He has gone back to looking like a overly confident chucker. Although he still did get 3 points on 4 shots. His defense is no where near good enough for him to be useful unless he is really doing some good things on offense. This is obviously by no means a death knell for him, there are some real things here to like. He just has not played well.

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General: Pretty much covered earlier. The Spurs locked into the Pistons bread and butter and shut it down. And while the non Jackson/Drummond guys did not play poorly (other than KCP) but the Pistons needed someone to really step it up on the offensive end and no one really did. I did like the defense and I still liked the hybrid forwards.

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What do you think? Think Reggie Bullock will last? Let me know! We all get smarter!