BACK TO .500 BABY!! It is mostly symbolic and just a number, but it feels good. Pistons got a good win where pretty much everyone played well on top of it.
Chalk another good game up for Reggie. 19 points on 14 shots with 8 assists, 3 rebounds, a steal and a block. He needs to keep it up for a bit, but he really does look like he is mostly back. Offensively he is getting into the lane and attacking the rim more, and he is starting to get lots of Kobe assists (a missed shot that gets put back) to Andre again, which was a staple last year that had mostly evaporated so far this year, and it is just a good sign of the change. Even when he is missing his shots, just by getting into the paint and drawing some defense towards him is helping the team. He is also starting to look more like himself defensively. He isn’t fast enough to ever be a great defender, and he doesn’t usually try hard enough to even be a consistent plus. But he is huge for a point guard, and is capable of making some plays that other guys just can’t, and he can even out his defensive impact with a few good plays, and he is back to that. His block in this game was super impressive one from behind on Rose. He was helped by a good night from deep (4-6 from 3) but still a very nice game for Reggie.
I don’t know how much of it is on purpose, but I feel like KCP has gotten frozen out of the offense too much. Tonight he had 9 points on just 9 equivalents with 3 boards, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Even though he has played pretty well since the break, he just hasn’t been very involved in the offense. Even though I am a fairly strong believer in that KCP is going to be best off long term as a really good role player, he has certainly shown this year that he is capable of doing more offensively than just spot up shooting. Since the all star break KCP is 5th on the team with just 11.6 FGA per game, while at the same time playing by far the most minutes on the team. When sorted by per 36 it becomes even wider, where he is 7th on the team, only .2 above Stanley Johnson. Once again, I don’t think he should be exactly featured, but let him run a couple more pick and rolls per game, his speed and shooting give a nice wrinkle to the offense. All that said, still a decent game for KCP, just not terribly impactful.
Marcus didn’t do a lot on offense, scoring just 7 points on 10 shots with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. But he guarded Carmelo pretty much the entire night, and held him largely under wraps in a way that was really impressive. He did a very good job of ball denial and largely kept him from getting any good looks. That is pretty much all that Marcus did, but it was very important. Good game for Marcus.
Tobias got off to a crazy start, as he had 27 points early in the 2nd half, but only finished with 28. Even with him being quiet in the 2nd half, 28 points on 23 equivalents with 7 boards, 5 assists(!!) and 2 blocks is an excellent night. Those assists were not wimpy ones either, he threw a couple of lobs to Andre and was finding guys in transition. My guess is that he is back in the starting lineup full time now, and even though it was fun to see if he could maybe get 6th man of the year, I think it is for the best. His defense and passing have come a long way this year to the point that he is just too good to keep out on the bench. Even with Reggie possibly looking back in full form, Tobias will have a good argument to be the 2nd best player behind Andre. Great game from Tobias.
The Knicks don’t have a lot of muscle up front, and it showed. Andre wrecked havoc in all areas of the game on his way to 24 points on 17 equivalents (4-10 from the line), 15 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block. The Knicks were totally helpless against him rolling to the hoop as he finished many oops in the half court and in transition, and they struggled to keep him off the glass. Andre has really played well, and he is benefiting big time from Reggie finding the paint back and drawing extra defenders. Excellent game from Andre.
Likely back to the bench for good, Leuer had a pretty nice game. 11 points on 9 shots with 3 boards in 21 minutes. I think he is probably better suited for a bench guy role as well. His defensive limitations matter less against bench guys, and against most bench bigs his ability to put it on the floor is lethal.
Stanley had a pretty nice game yet again, although he did struggle a bit with his offense tonight. 4 points on 7 shots. However he did manage 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. One of his assists was a really nice pass to Reggie Jackson as well. Nice game for Stanley, and he keeps on chugging.
With him now at getting close to the ideal minutes of 18 the past couple of games, he seems pretty well adjusted. 4 points on 9 shots is pretty poor, but when that is combined with 6 assists against just 1 turnover and solid defense you live with the poor scoring. The reality is that he just needs to can enough shots to keep the defense at least slightly honest, and he did that tonight. Nice game from Ish.
Didn’t do a ton in his 18 minutes, 4 points on 4 shots with 6 boards. He mostly just did his thing, playing hard on defense and setting screens on offense. Fine game for Baynes.
He didn’t do anything of particular note in his 7 minutes, but I love that he got the minutes. I’ve said it since early last year, but even though all Bullock’s minutes came in the first half, those 7 minutes help keep him sharp and keep from running KCP totally in the ground. I also really like the lineup Bullock was used in. Jackson/Bullock/Johnson/Leuer/Baynes. Because if you run that as a full bench mob with Ish at the point you run the risk of a fatal lack of shooting on the floor. But it is still a lineup with a lot of energy and speed at the other positions along with Jackson.
Got a couple minutes of garbage time. Got a shot to fall.
I think that they somehow need to even out their shot distribution a little bit. Post all star break Marcus Morris is almost even with Tobias in shot attempts, which isn’t ideal. But I do like that they are actively trying to feature Tobias more, and the odd point guard minutes split has worked really well. I hope that they can get KCP back into a bit of a more active role in the offense. One thing that I really do like in the post break is that they clearly are putting a big focus on non-Andre guys protecting the rim. I like this for a couple of reasons, first off, is that it is straight up working. Tobias, Marcus, Stanley, and Leuer have all made some really excellent protections at the hoop, and even KCP and Reggie have made a couple. But I think in theory it should be a good thing long term, the Pistons apparently want Andre to be more aggressive in chasing guys outside the paint, but first they need to prove that they can do anything to hold down the paint when Andre leaves. It should give him more confidence to be aggressive defensively.
What do you think? Can Reggie keep up the good play? Should KCP get a more active offensive role?