Pistons role players doing their part

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
The Nets' Brook Lopez and the Pistons' Joel Anthony look for a rebound.

Auburn Hills — It’s still early, and while much of the attention is firmly placed on the big three of Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and rookie Stanley Johnson, there’s still an eye on the complementary Pistons to contribute.

While Jackson (Achilles) sat out Tuesday’s exhibition loss, Drummond had 16 points and nine rebounds and Johnson had 26 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 22 points, but some of the other contributions from the role players gave coach Stan Van Gundy reason to smile.

Marcus Morris had eight points and eight rebounds, Jodie Meeks 15 points and Reggie Bullock and Joel Anthony added six points apiece.

“Jodie is a really good offensive player, not just a shooter. He really knows how to score and draw fouls,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a really good offensive player who will help us. Throughout camp, he’s made a much better effort defensively.”

Bullock, one of three or four players trying to secure a roster spot, made a case with a good defensive outing, and played with one of the strongest defensive units, which helped overcome a halftime deficit before the Pistons lost.

Anthony, who will play mostly as a third center, showed some of the attributes that made Van Gundy want to bring him back — veteran savvy and leadership.

“You can always count on him; he’s always going to defend. He’s ready to play all the time,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a smart, tough guy and a true pro. That’s why we signed him back; Joel’s a guy who’s like a security blanket to have on your roster because he’s a guy you can count on every night.”

After missing the opener, rookie Darrun Hilliard is looking to get some playing time off the bench. He had been playing backup point guard after the rash of injuries at the position, but likely will contribute at shooting guard.

“He was struggling playing (point guard) and so we played Stanley and Jodie some,” Van Gundy said. “(Wednesday) in practice we put him back at the (shooting guard) spot, and he had his best practice since he’s been here.

“The question is you’d like to get him in some but we’re really focused on being ready for (the regular-season opener) and Caldwell-Pope and Jodie need playing time, so that’s not going to leave many minutes at that spot.”

Slam dunks

Steve Blake, who has spent most much of the week with concussion symptoms, could be on his way back after he completes the league protocol. He hasn’t been practicing.

“The plan was to have him come to the arena (Thursday) to see the doctors,” Van Gundy said. “He started to turn the corner (Wednesday) where he seemed like himself. From there, you have to take the baseline tests again and go through the protocol.”

If he continues to show improvement, Blake could resume activities in the next 10 days.

“What we’re looking is getting back to practice after the San Antonio game (Oct. 18),” Van Gundy said. “He’ll be able to start doing some activity next week. Once you pass that baseline test, they put you on the treadmill or the bike and see how you tolerate that and ramp up your activity.”

... The Pistons waived forward Eric Griffin.