Auburn Hills — Andre Drummond got back to work in Thursday’s practice.
After missing all seven attempts at the free-throw line in Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers, Drummond went back to the lab, trying to get back to the rhythm and form that helped him start the season at 75 percent on free throws in the first 10 games.
And he got his touch back.
“Everybody has their goals for their longest streak and he came back and the first time he stepped to the line today, he made his 11 or 12 in a row,” coach Stan Van Gundy said.
“You just get back on it and clear your head. I just talked to him about not letting it affect him during the game. He bounced back well: 21 rebounds and he helped us win.”
It’s more evidence of the maturity that Drummond has exhibited this season, which has been one of the biggest elements of the Pistons’ surprising 8-3 start. Even after Drummond got into early foul trouble Wednesday and the Pistons fell into another double-digit deficit, he had an outstanding second half to help spur the victory.
That’s an evolution from two seasons ago, when Drummond drew the negative focus on the night the Pistons clinched a playoff spot and Drummond was a bit boorish on the bench.
That’s long forgotten, especially with his play on the court and his readiness to take more accountability for being both a leader and catalyst.
When he struggled at the free-throw line, he found other ways to contribute, with 14 points, 21 rebounds and four assists. That drive and exuberance showed in the final minutes, when he helped put seal the win.
“It’s my job to stay (even-keeled). If I show signs of doubt or show signs I’m not into the game, that’s when my team loses shape. For me to stay strong and not crumble and be upset about the missed shots is doing my part,” Drummond said Wednesday night.
“It took a while to realize that but I do have that effect on the team.
“When I do play with high energy and confidence, you can see it in everybody’s face and their play. In previous years, I played down and it looked like things were bothering me and everybody moved around in slow motion.”
Forward Anthony Tolliver was among the veterans who told Drummond that the team wasn’t concerned about missed free throws; it was Drummond’s energy and rebounding that were more important.
Drummond has raised his numbers to 14 points, 15.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists and is playing at an All-Star level, which is reason enough for optimism.
Reserve center Boban Marjanovic had his biggest playing time of the season, with nine points and four rebounds in nine minutes. He matches up well against the Pacers’ Al Jefferson; however, he won’t be an everyday play, instead splitting time with Jon Leuer and Eric Moreland, depending on the skill set of the opposing backup center.
Although Marjanovic’s court time is limited because of unfavorable matchups on defense, Van Gundy said those opportunities could increase based on certain situations.
“I’d try him against a lot of people, but (the Jefferson matchup) is one we’ve seen in the past. The thing with Al is when he gets it going, I’m not sure anybody guards him in the low post,” Van Gundy said.
“It’ll change from night to night. There will be some nights like last night where Eric or Jon goes in first and we decide to use him based on what we need in the game.”
Van Gundy said Stanley Johnson (hip flexor) and Jon Leuer (ankle) are “questionable to doubtful” for tonight’s game.
Hawks at Pistons
Tip-off: Friday, 7 p.m., Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Outlook: The Pistons (8-3) have won six of their last seven games, including three on their five-game home stand. Dennis Schroder (22.6 points and 6 assists) leads the Hawks (2-9), who have allowed at least 104 points in all but one game.