Game Recap/Notes: Game #18. Pistons 115 - Knicks 108. (11-7)
It wasn’t great that the Pistons failed to put the Knicks away, allowing it to remain within striking distance till the end, but still another win over an inferior team and the Pistons have yet to drop a truly bad game this season.
Jackson is starting to get into a groove and a big part of it is Dwane Casey deciding to let him actually run pick and rolls over the last couple of weeks. Even bigger than the fact that Jackson is starting to round into form is the impact it has had on the Pistons, whose offense has risen to 14th in the NBA after being in the 20s.
This was one of Jackson’s better games of the season, 21 points on 15 shot equivalents with 4 assists and 3 rebounds in just 27 minutes of work. He is still a master in the pick and roll, and against soft interior defenses like the Knicks, his ability to nail floaters is huge.
Not a notable game for Bullock. 7 points on 6 shot equivalents and 5 rebounds. Not a terrible night, it isn’t like he missed a bunch of shots, but just didn’t do much to impact the game despite playing 30 minutes.
Only played 11 minutes, didn’t do anything of note.
Another 30 point game for Griffin, and he did it efficiently despite not hitting any long-guns. His 30 points came on 29 shot equivalents as he shot 12-16 from the free-throw line. Griffin also had 4 rebounds and 5 assists on the night. He stayed aggressive, and the Knicks had little answer other than to blatantly and repeatedly foul him. Games like this are where Griffin really stands out from other guys, on a night where the shot isn’t falling, he simply forces his way inside and still has an effective game even if not his normal efficiency.
Rough night for Drummond but still a sign of continued progress for the big man. He scored just 6 points on 11 shot equivalents, which is obviously bad, but often in the past he tries too hard to force shots when he struggles. He didn’t do that tonight, he just kept chugging along, it was just one of those nights where his touch wasn’t good enough. Also, despite struggling to score, he continued to do his job in other areas, he pulled in 14 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive, had 2 blocks, and a steal. So not a good game for Drummond, but he continued to do his job in other areas even though he couldn’t score.
We talked about this quite a bit last season, dubbing Johnson “Bench-Mob-Ben-Simmons” however that moniker must be removed because apparently Johnson really has made a difference with his outside shooting form. Johnson showed promise as a bench-leader last season before the Blake Griffin trade forced him back into starting duties, and he has thrived since moving to the bench this season. He finished the night with 21 points on 13 shot equivalents, with 4 rebounds and a pair of assists. His aggression with the second unit is a difference but even bigger is that the level of defenders is probably low enough that he is much more able to get to the hoop.
Regardless, if Johnson can keep up his level of play since the move it would be a boon for the Pistons in more ways than one.
9 points on as many shot equivalents and 3 rebounds, also had 5 fouls somehow.
21 minutes, 9 points on 9 shots, 3 rebounds, 7 assists. Another good day at the office for Smith, who has evened out after plummeting from his red-hot start. If he can keep his scoring efficiency from going too far below a true shooting percentage of 50% (currently 49%) then he’s going to continue to be a really solid player for the Pistons.
18 minutes, scored 2 points, played defense. I will note, that Brown is not quite as good on defense as he appears to be. He has a tendency to miscommunicate off the ball, double-team for no reason, and also fouls at an almost comical rate of 5.3 fouls per 36 minutes. All of that is ok, these are things all rookies struggle with on defense, and I like him for short bursts, just don’t let a couple of nice plays against James Harden fool you into believing that he is already the second coming of Tony Allen.
Played 17 minutes due to some early foul trouble for Andre. 9 points on 4 shot equivalents and 6 rebounds. Really nice outing for Pachulia.
The Pistons continue to take care of business against lesser teams and the reality is that in this Eastern Conference that can take them a long way. The losses to the Hornets and Heat do stand out a bit still though. Regardless, there are two trends that have been happening that are the best news for the Pistons. First off, Andre Drummond has been getting more comfortable in the defensive scheme. Second off, Reggie Jackson is starting to be effective. The Pistons need both of those things if they want to reach their ceiling of dark-horse contenders. They need Drummond to be a high-level defender, and Jackson to at least come close to the explosive scorer he was before all the injuries.