Game Notes:

  1. With Kyle Lowry sitting out due to rest (a smart decision), the Raptors were always going to struggle. Not only is Lowry the best player on the team, he’s also the glue that holds the pieces together. Without him, it’s so much easier to zero in on DeRozan, take away the paint, and choke out the Raptors.
  2. That being said, there’s no excuse for how bad the defense was, especially in that third quarter when they gave up 37 points on 14-18 shooting and forced 0 turnovers. Sloppy play from the guards to consistently get beaten off the dribble. Reminded me of last year’s team.
  3. James Johnson’s drives early on made him, oddly enough, the second option in the offense. He created some nice looks for Jonas Valanciunas, but ultimately, it absolutely killed spacing. Last year, Johnson was able to drive more effectively because he was usually surrounded by three shooters in Williams/Vasquez/Patterson, but he’ll need to adapt in this shitty starting unit
  4. Justin Harper, a 10-day contract player for the Pistons, drilled two threes in Luis Scola’s eye. Opponents shoot 17 percent higher on threes guarded by Scola as compared to league average. Ugh.
  5. Delon Wright sure loves to “stunt”, then drive against the defense on closeouts when he should be shooting the open three. He probably doesn’t have the range yet. Both of his threes in the first quarter missed badly.
  6. The Pistons’ play-by-play guy George Blaha likes to call every jumpshot a “gun”. “DeRozan comes around a pin-down, and he GUNS!” “Terrence Ross gets the kickout from Delon Wright and he GUNS!” He must have loved Pistol Pete.
  7. I was impressed by how much research the Pistons’ crew pulled out. They knew DeRozan’s game against Cleveland was marred by him having the flu. They knew Valanciunas worked with Jack Sikma last summer. They weren’t as analytically savvy as I’d usually like (say, with Minnesota’s crew) but they don’t crowd the game with too much talking, and no homerism. A very enjoyable broadcast.
  8. Andre Drummond creates so much space for his guards to attack. One, he sets massive, bone-crunching screens that easily sheds the ball defender. Two, every center is afraid to leave Drummond to send help on the drive because they know it’s an easy alley-oop if they separate for even a second.
  9. Rookie mistakes from Wright: shy of contact (soft screens, no resistance on defense – fucking Steve Blake burned him), and he got his signals crossed and intentionally fouled Blake instead of Drummond to end the third.
  10. At least we have TJ Ross, who remains unstoppable for some reason. A few nice drives by Ross, including a floater, and a layup with Drummond at the rim.

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