The last home game of the 2017-18 season for the Detroit Pistons started out innocently enough, but then the Toronto Raptors put forth a little effort on the defensive end to eventually get by the home team, 108-98. The Pistons were without Andre Drummond (Achilles), Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin and a fully healthy Reggie Jackson.
The Pistons found themselves up three at half-time, and it would have been more if not for a 21-to-7 defensive-fueled run from the Raptors to end the second quarter. The third quarter was won by the Raptors by eight, and then it got even uglier as the Pistons began the fourth by tripping and falling over themselves trying to play defense or run a reasonable offensive set, trailing by as many as 19. The Pistons made a decent run to get back to within seven, but the result was never in doubt.
Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl are a fun center duo, if you didn’t realize it by now. They ate up Eric Moreland, Anthony Tolliver and Henry Ellenson all game.
Valanciunas scored 25 (in 25 minutes), Poeltl scored 12 and DeMar DeRozan scored 16. Former friend of the program (and a so much cheaper bench option than Langston Galloway) Lorenzo Brown scored in 11 points in 25 minutes. Lorenzo, along with two other Raptors, have a G League finals game tomorrow in Toronto and I heard about this no less than 31 times while watching the Raptors broadcast.
The first half was the Ish Smith show with the slippery point guard going a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor in just seven minutes. He would go on to put up only two more shots in the game.
Promising first half for the rookie, but he struggled to get quality looks in the second half. Scored 20 points on 13 shots (not enough) and contributed seven rebounds, too. However, defense continues to be a real problem.
Don’t be bashful, Luke. Get those shots up.
Shot 2-of-10 tonight and missed all four of his threes. It’s such a chore watching Stanley shoot the basketball. He’ll have his nice games here and there, though I’m really of the thinking that, after all, he’s a professional basketball player, so you know that he’s going to have good nights occasionally. It’s a given. Let’s not over-react when he does have a good shooting game every sixth game. We should be paying attention to what normally happens — and it’s that in most games he can’t shoot worth a lick. It’s been like this for three straight seasons. Look at the numbers. I like Stanley when he’s not shooting jump shots and when he’s using his ball handling ability and strength to get decent looks inside. This shooting experiment stuff is getting old.
- I saw this article headline at the New York Post from last week — Jerry Stackhouse, thriving in G-League, could be Knicks candidate — and I thought to myself, why can’t the Pistons have nice things anymore? If there’s going to be a four-year window with Blake as the stud and the team cash-strapped with so very little room for error, let’s give an up-and-coming coach a chance to get everything he can out of this team. It’s an old fact around here that this team often loafs around while playing for Stan Van Gundy. Improve the coaching staff! Come on, Gores, get a clue.
- I’m sure some of you already read various articles in the papers over the weekend about Van Gundy likely coming back to finish out the last year of his contract. Rod Beard in The Detroit News put it like this:
There are plenty of reasons to argue that Van Gundy should be fired — namely, his issues with selecting and developing young talent, his coaching foibles and the team’s apparent malaise at his message.
There’s an alternate reality: he’s just as likely to stay — at least for part of next season — to get one last chance to steer this roster in the right direction.
- What does Stan Van Gundy think about Kay Felder and Reggie Hearn? Apparently not a whole lot. Why choose these two as two-way contract players and not give them some run when there’s nothing else to play for? I see most other teams — no matter their playoff situation — use their two-way players’ eligibility right up. Let’s see what these guys can do right now.
- The Raptors are deep, versatile and it looks like they’ll be pretty healthy going into the playoffs. I may be crazy — but they’re my choice to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals.