Game Recap/Notes: Game #54. Pistons 95 - Clippers 98. (27-27)

Well, it was going to happen at some point. The Pistons lost, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond had bad games. The Clippers also were almost comically rested heading in to the game so that certainly didn't help. Either way, the Pistons played really poorly and yet were in the game until the end so that's a positive.

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

Holy smokes did he start off the game poorly, in the end his stat-line looked decent after a couple garbage time buckets but still, 15 points on 14 shots with 4 assists isn't terrible. Ish did a decent job of doing what he was supposed to do, but this is two games where the offense has looked abysmal with the lack of spacing. The only times where there was any flow to the offense was when shooters were on the floor. It is hard to be too upset with Ish over this, we all know what his limitations are, but it still stings.

 

Reggie Bullock:

lol I wonder if Reggie Bullock actually is the best shooter alive. He will probably cool off at least a bit at some point but man its fun. Bullock finished with 19 points on 11 shots with 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 40(!!) minutes of play. Him going supernova from deep has been huge for the Pistons ever since he was put into the starting lineup and the Pistons better pray he doesn't go cold, at least until Reggie Jackson comes back. On the downside, he was really bad defensively from my eye for most of the night.

 

Stanley Johnson:

We will start with the same caveat that Ish Smith got. Even though he went 1-2 from deep tonight, the way opponents are disrespecting Stanley's long ball is a problem. At least Stanley has the ability to just bull his way through the crowd and score. Beyond the fact that his lack of shooting kind of strangles the offense, Stanley finished with 10 points on 10 equivalents with 3 rebounds and an assist. Even though it was a bit of a quieter night for him, he did a good job in transition once again and was very good defensively. I think that if he wants to stay in the starting lineup long term he kind of has to find some semblance of long ball but for now I will enjoy him playing aggressive and finding success.

 

Blake Griffin:

I think he wanted this one, maybe a little bit too much. In the end he did finish with 19 points on 21 equivalents with 8 rebounds, and 6 assists (against just 1 turnover) in 35 minutes of play which is not bad. There was a stretch in the 3rd quarter with him at center and shooter around him where he broke out for a bit. But beyond the stats, the eye test was pretty clear. Blake struggled immensely to score for most of the game, and he tried to do too much. Too many plays the ball stuck in his hands for too long and there was very little movement and he also was too willing to take jumpers at times too.

Beyond that though, a lot of the tough night was just that some shots didn't fall. They mentioned in the broadcast that the Pistons shot some terrible percentage in the paint which made sense. There is a saying: “For some guys the ball just goes in” which basically means that there isn't something super special about their moves or anything, they just have the right amount of touch that it goes in. Griffin and his post up game is absolutely someone for whom that applies. So many of his post up shots are ugly sort of hooks where he just kind of flips the ball up but it goes in. Tonight it didn't. It sucks that he had to struggle and lose against his old team, I'm sure he wanted it, but you move on.

 

Andre Drummond:

I'm going to say the only good things about his night first. For starters, he kind of pulled it together in the 4th quarter and had a good defensive presence. The other thing is that he was straight garbage and played probably his worst game of the year and still finished with 12 points on 16 equivalents, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and 3 blocks in 38 minutes lol. I say that only because I was surprised by his box score. The fact that he went a game worst -17 backs up how bad he was but whatever.

With that out of the way, holy crap was Drummond bad. I don't know if perhaps he was sick or something (that has happens occasionally with SVG. Someone plays like crap and then SVG admits later he was under the weather) but he was awful. He got out rebounded by Montrezl Harrell on a bunch of possessions, didn't move quickly enough on defense, and missed bunnies on offense. In the end the biggest problem I had was that he had no interest in attacking the rim with the ball in his hands. There were like 4 or 5 shots where I literally yelled in anger about him taking hook shots for no reason. He has to realize that every time he takes one of those he is letting the defense off easy, put pressure on, draw fouls, and give yourself a chance to rebound your own miss. So yeah, even though Griffin struggled I think that Drummond is really the guy who fell short tonight. As long as he bounces back against the Hawks I'm not really concerned, but this was a bad night.

 

Luke Kennard:

Luke had a strong first half with a few buckets, had a bad second half. He finished with 6 points on 7 shots with 5 rebounds and some bad defensive rotations. The biggest indicator of his poor play is in the same area as Drummond however as Kennard was just barely behind Drummond at -15 on the night. The difference is that Drummond went -17 in 38 minutes of a game the Pistons lost by 13, Kennard went -15 in 24 minutes.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

12 points on 9 equivalents, 6 free throws(!!??) in 23 minutes. Tolly doing good work and he even put in a good effort on defense. Hopefully James Ennis takes a little bit of the load off Tolly but if Tolly keeps playing like this it will be alright.

 

Langston Galloway:

He hurt himself by going 1-7 from the field for just 2 points in 17 minutes while not doing much good on defense, but the Pistons offense generally looked better with Galloway on the floor. Still though, not a good night for him.

 

General:

I think that both Nelson and Ennis will really help. At the very least some guys should be able to play a little bit less which will be nice. I think that it is probably time to take either Stanley or Ish out of the starting lineup although either one will be hard to do until Nelson or Ennis get acclimated and even tonight the starting lineup largely did ok. But the down-sides of having such little shooting on the floor has showed the last couple of games. Maybe they can just defend like crazy and use brute strength on offense to keep it working, but I'd be surprised.

The other thing that will be big going forward is that SVG has to find ways to get Blake involved in the offense beyond “Blake here's the ball go do something.” it isn't a big deal right now, they've been playing every other night, but it has to happen. I do like that at the very least they made efforts to run him through screens to get favorable matchups, but more will be needed. You can't ask a guy to carry as heavy a burden of offensive creation as he has had the last two games. The good news is that the Pistons play the Hawks next, the Hawks are bad. All things considered they went 5-1 on the home stand which I will definitely take.

 

What do you think? Should they put more shooting in the starting lineup? What ways should they use to get Blake involved other than isolations?