Game Recap/Notes: Game #68. Pistons 114 - Hawks 118. 34-34.

Even though it turned out poorly, that was a super fun game to watch. The things that put a damper on it was SVG's frustrating rotation choices. And even though it is a small consolation, the Pistons did play a very solid game. The Hawks are a good team who was really on their game for most of the night. Both teams played really good defense, they both just had better offense. That results in fun basketball.

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Box score.

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Reggie Jackson: Very solid if not awesome game from Reggie. 17 points on 18 equivalents, 10 assists to 3 turnovers. And he was really playing defense hard for most of the night. The main thing that was disappointing is that he struggled to get the points that were not really given to him. He scored a really large amount of his points on floaters in the lane when the Hawks way over compensated for the lob to Andre which in turn gave him free floaters on a lot of possessions, which he took full advantage of. But he was not creating a lot else as far as scoring, and it was badly exposed when SVG took Andre out of the game at the end (more on that later) when the Hawks pulled away. Still though, he distributed very well, and he did take full advantage of the looks the defense gave him. His (and the Pistons) effort would have been greatly helped if he had just managed to get one or 2 of his 3s to drop. (which is mostly just a luck thing) I do really want to call to attention his defense, which has (mostly rightfully so) gotten some negative attention this year. But he played really well on defense tonight. All in all it was a real solid game, but nothing too awesome.

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KCP: Really nice night for KCP as he rides one of his streaks of being good. 24 points on just 19 equivalents and typically stifling defense of Kyle Korver. It was a very nice game. One thing to note is that, while it would obviously be foolish to put a lot of stock into this because it is like 3 games, but he has been rather visibly more aggressive at trying to get to the hoop the past few games and it has paid off in more free throws and generally improved efficiency. I don't know if it will be an extended trend, but I do like it. Also beyond that, I think SVG is just letting him have a bit more freedom as a ball handler, which he is still not all that effective in doing, (most notably in his passing which is pretty miserable), but I still like it. If he is going to become the unquestioned long term answer at the SG spot he needs to improve his offense somehow, and pretty soon 2 of his 3 NBA seasons suggest he isn't a very good outside shooter. Combine that with that he is a really good athlete and I want to see him try and handle the ball and attacking the hoop a bit more. Even if it does not work, at least we know that he isn't capable of it for sure. Also as a side note. It is an absolute joy to watch him play defense. The way he glides along in front of dudes is just so cool. And how guys will face him up and do some fancy dribbling and he will not bite on anything, and then they finally make their move and he moves right with them. It is so fun to watch.

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Tobias Harris: 19 points on 14 equivalents. Tobias Harris is an inefficient chucker. 2/4 from deep.Tobias Harris can't shoot. 5 assists with just 1 turnover. Tobias Harris is a ball hog and is a bad passer even when he tries. And some really nice defensive plays on various opponents. Tobias Harris can't play defense. Really nice night for him, and the sort of performance that will have to continue to be the regular if he is going to fill the role the Pistons want him to.

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Greater Morris: Did I skip the Wizards recap because I might have to relinquish the title of Greater Morris? Maybe. Still though, Morris played a really nice game. 14 points on 11 equivalents, a couple assists, and 4 boards. And along with Harris played some very nice defense after a hot start from Paul Millsap. He generally did his thing, scoring in the midrange, hit a 3, threw some nice passes. Including an absolute beautiful find of KCP in the corner while he was standing on the other side of the court. (KCP missed the shot) Just the typical all around solidness we all expect from Morris at this point.

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Andre Drummond: 18 points on 20 equivalents, 18 rebounds, and some really nice defensive plays. including a not totally disastrous 5/12 from the line. Including like 3 or 4 straight splits when the Hawks started hacking him at the end of the game. Plus, once they started hacking him, he really turned up on defense and made some really nice plays and grabbed several boards. But SVG took him out. I'm not pleased by this even remotely. Once he left the Hawks immediately pulled away and the run included several offensive rebounds. Andre was truly looking like the dominant force who was legit taking over the game, and he was splitting them at the line. Which is more or less exactly what everyone has wanted from him. Perhaps SVG is playing the long term game and just wants to make Andre sit on the bench and think "I've gotta work like crazy on my free throws this summer" but still. Dude has legit improved lately, and has pretty consistently shot 50% when people hack him lately. The Pistons defense AND offense basically dies when he is not on the court. Without him the options are basically 1. Hope Reggie can create something. 2. Iso Harris. 3. Iso Morris. That is it. If he is not totally murdering them with his free throws, leave him in.

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Steve Blake: Nope.

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Stanley Johnson: Had a really nice game. Which was good to see since he had looked pretty bad since coming back from injury in the past couple. 7 points on 6 equivalents, 4 boards, and 3 assists (with 3 turnovers) including showing off some of that PnR chemistry with Baynes that they have. He looked like the guy he has for most of the year, which is good. Because with the bench the way it is they need him to be at least semi-competent as a creator on offense.

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Aron Baynes: It's not his fault SVG put him in at the end of the game effectively sealing the game for the Hawks. Baynes played a really solid game. 6 points on 6 shots and 5 boards. He generally did his thing, hitting a couple jumpers. Had a dunk. Was a large human being. Did his job and did it fine.

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Anthony Tolliver: Didn't play a lot, but hit 1/2 from deep for 3 points on 2 shots. And there was not any noticable screw ups on defense. So I suppose a win for Tolly tonight.

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General: I hate that SVG took Andre out. The only real defense is that he is playing the long term game here and is just trying to piss Andre off to the point that Andre learns to shoot free throws out of pure rage. Steve Blake is horrible, and had absolutely no chance against Schroder, and it becomes totally indefensible that he is still the backup PG since now Dinwiddie is healthy AND there is an open roster spot to add someone who does not totally ruin the integrity of your defense. Also, WTF Stan? Why cut Bullock out of the rotation? Marcus Morris played 37 minutes and KCP played 39. They are both going to be dead by the time the playoffs come around, and Bullock played REALLY well in his stint in the rotation. I'm not saying Bullock would mean the Pistons win this game of course, but I am saying he absolutely should not be bumped out of the rotation at least until Meeks comes back. HOWEVA, all that being said. It is a pretty nice thing to have not just the biggest, but really the only, complaint with the head coach be what guys he plays at the very end of the rotation. Because that is a pretty minor thing, but that doesn't mean I can't say he is messing it up.

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What do you think? How many games has Steve Blake cost the Pistons this year? I'd say about 3 or 4 off the top of my head. Let me know! We all get smarter!