Another tough loss for the Pistons. Their most glaring weakness reared its ugly head once again, as their lack of any sort of defensive stopper resulted in Paul George closing out the game in all too easy fashion. The Pistons could not stop the Pacers all night, and even though they ended up making it sort of interesting right at the end, it wasn't really that close. As such, the Pistons will continue their soul searching.
Offensively, Reggie put in what was probably his best effort of the year, scoring 20 points on 18 shots, and a couple of those misses were desperations. To go along with 12 assists against just 3 turnovers, and he had 7 assists to top it off. He had his game going, taking his time in the pick and roll, hitting Andre and shooters for easy looks and nailing his own floaters and jumpers. Also, even though his percentage is actually down, I feel like he has improved his pull up 3 game, because I don't remember him hitting so many last year. Defensively he spent a lot of his time off the ball, and generally was just a part of the mess that was the Pistons defense tonight. A good game overall, he just wasn't able to finish out the game in the same fashion with which he played the rest of it.
16 points on 15 equivalents, 5 assists against 0 turnovers. Like Jackson, a really nice offensive game as at least one of KCP's misses was a desperation shot at the end of the game. He found his shots and generally hit them, and took advantage of leaky Pacers defense to find open guys for passes. The one thing that is still rather glaringly missing in his offensive game (at times) is his lack of a go to move when he has to create his own shot from nothing, which is a small complaint given how much he has improved this year, but the Pistons should probably try harder to not have him end up with the ball at the end of the shot clock. Defensively, other than a couple of nice plays he was pretty bad. He got straight up cooked by both Monta Ellis and Jeff Teague on several occasions, and was pretty much just as guilty as everyone else in terms of being lazy getting to their spots off the ball which resulted in lots of open shots. Just like Reggie, it was a good game for KCP, but his defense was just not where it has to be.
Salvaged his game a bit with a couple of 3s at the end to spark the Pistons brief combat miracle attempt, but even with those 3s he finished with 14 points on 14 shots. As a real plus Marcus, like KCP, took advantage of poor defense to find open guys and ended up with 4 assists against no turnovers. Overall offensively, Marcus continues to struggle a bit, as his efficiency is down across the board. He does a lot of the little things, and I never feel like he is really hurting the offense based on the eye test, but the numbers are really poor for him right now. Him finding his shot back would be a huge boost to the Pistons.
Defensively he got a lot of time on Paul George, and actually did pretty well. The problem is that he spent a lot of time not on Paul George, and that is mostly when the Pistons got cooked by him. I don't know if Morris could've done a better job of keeping him from single handedly putting the Pistons away at the end of the game, but it wouldn't have hurt.
I just want to start off here with something, I know that SVG values Leuer as a defender, but I have no idea what exactly SVG was thinking in this game. There were a large number of possessions in this game where Leuer started off on Paul George, as in that was who the Pistons designed to be matched up with him. George predictably killed him, and I am left in some amount of disbelief as to what SVG thought was going to happen, and I am going to blame that squarely on SVG and not on Leuer. Leuer did all that could be expected, which is just foul him, and that is legitimately one of the first strategic things this year that SVG just totally screwed up.
Coaching aside, Leuer was firmly a part of the Pistons mess of a defensive effort, although to his credit he at least tried really hard while being a mess. Offensively he was efficient with 14 points on 11 shots along with 7 rebounds. I mean, he just did his thing, he hit some set up looks, hit a couple post ups over smaller dudes, made a couple of nice passes, and played hard on defense.
20 points on 17 equivalents, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal make a gaudy stat sheet for Andre. Myles Turner quite clearly could not hold him in place and Andre made him pay for it many times throughout the game. He really gave good effort on both ends and it showed for the most part. HOWEVA, and remember that this is coming from a guy who spends a ton of time defending Andre and especially Andre's defense. He straight up had way too many plays in this game where he just totally screwed up. It wasn't a lack of effort, it was just a lack of focus. Myles Turner is good, but Andre gave him way too many open looks, and it was clear tonight that the open looks were not because SVG decided to give them up, it was because Andre visibly just would forget to get back to his man. Andre didn't have as many issues as a lot of the other guys on the team, but there were like 5 or 6 possessions in this game where he just ended up in totally the wrong place, and he can't do that. If all it will take to totally confuse Andre is a center who can shoot then the Pistons are going to be toast in today's NBA. So still a fairly monster game from Andre, but the defensive gaffs are pretty glaring.
Tobias for 6th man of the year. Tobias remains a bit of a bright spot from the last few games, as he scored 22 points on just 15 equivalents, which is the 4th time in 5 games he has gone over 20 points off the bench. Tobias also had 5 rebounds and a pair of assists in the game, to illustrate his overall game of being a real rock scoring the ball with the bench mob. Defensively he got eaten by Paul George a couple of times. I do really like the way Tobias has been aggressive in attacking the rim on offense since his move to the bench, and I think that it really does kind of show the value of putting the ball in his hands a little bit more than before.
3 points, 4 assists, 3 turnovers. Ish Smith is a good backup point guard, but he has not been quite as good as I thought he would be after the way he finished up his stint as a starter. I've said this before, but quietly a problem for the Pistons lately has been their bench play, and Ish Smith starting to turn the ball over at the levels of normal humans is a big part of that. Even if he had stayed the starter the Pistons would've hit this slide.
Stanley had a bit of a rough game, 3 points on 1 of 4 shooting, and he got beaten by Monta a few times. HOWEVA, I do really like that SVG has fully committed to trying to make Stanley a true defensive stopper. With the bench mob, Stanley was marked against Monta Ellis, and then later he went against Paul George, and other than a couple of plays he did pretty well on both of them. Watching George torch the Pistons to end the game was a great reminder of how important it will be for Stanley to reach his defensive potential, because the Pistons sorely need it.
Playing for the injured Baynes, Boban put up 4 points on 5 shots, had 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Ideally he will be more efficient scoring the ball, but overall I thought he played pretty well, he was not exposed on the perimeter on defense and even made a couple of really impressive plays. I don't know if Baynes will miss more time or not, but I think the Pistons will be ok if he does.
I don't know for sure what the answer is, but the Pistons need to start playing defense again. I am afraid that perhaps my preseason worry of the Pistons being quite lacking in guys who are just good defenders may be coming to fruition, and KCP's step backwards on that end combined with Andre not making much of a leap have made matters worse there. At the very least, the Pistons offense appears to be quite firmly humming again, they just have to find their defense back.
What do you think? Would you have put Leuer on George?