Auburn Hills — The early temptation is to scold Andre Drummond, tell him not to deviate from the game plan and be smarter.
He should do all that.
But be careful. Drummond is an instinctive player, much like Pistons great Dennis Rodman. And often, Rodman heard his coach, Chuck Daly, scream: “Don’t think! Just play!”
And that’s the message coach Stan Van Gundy must send to Drummond, especially after his mistake cost the Pistons a victory over the Clippers on Monday night.
Drummond thought he was doing the right thing, the instinctive thing, when he abandoned the post and began a defensive breakdown that resulted in Jamal Crawford’s 3-point winning jumper.
Van Gundy, however, called it “undisciplined panic.”
“Andre decided that he just wasn’t going to do something that was not in our plan whatsoever,” Van Gundy said. “I have absolutely no idea why he decided to run up the free-throw line and make Marcus (Morris) sink and leave.”
Left teammates hanging
The score was tied at 102 when Clippers forward Blake Griffin got the ball on a switch against Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the free-throw line. It’s a play the Pistons have had some success against with either Reggie Jackson or Caldwell-Pope holding their own.
Drummond was playing underneath, and the smart play would have been to hedge toward Griffin but stay close to the basket in case Griffin drove the lane.
Instead, Drummond went into attack mode and sprinted toward Griffin.
That left the lane open and put Marcus Morris in a tough situation on the wing. His options were to cover for Drummond and leave Crawford open, or stay on Crawford and risk giving up a dunk.
Morris left Crawford, who got the pass from Griffin and scored the winner.
“We just broke defensive coverage,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to stick to our principles and they found an open shot. Everything went haywire, everybody scrambling.”
Live and learn
The play showed how important teamwork is. In basketball, a mistake by one player leads to problems for the other four on the floor.
“We have not done a good job at the end of games,” Van Gundy said. “So we’ve got to learn to handle those situations. That’s all I’m concerned about. It’s not a matter of blame or anything else. But you want to learn and you want to get better.”
The Pistons are young and still haven’t figured each other out. They don’t know how to to win consistently yet.
So on Tuesday, it was back to the classroom for the Pistons, going over film to make sure the breakdowns come to an end.
“Every game we’ve been around, there were a couple miscommunications, a couple of lucky shots,” Morris said. “We could have two more wins.”
But, Morris is smart enough to know this team can’t dwell on the past.
“We can’t,” he said. “We have to come back and continue to play.”
The same applies to Drummond.
He can’t think about the game, he just needs to play.
And he knows it.
“There are lessons you learn from every team you play, win or lose,” Drummond said. “Those are lessons to take and go over in film and see what we can do better.”
Celtics at Pistons
Tip-off: 7:30 Wednesday, Palace of Auburn Hills
TV/radio: FSD/105.1 FM
Records: Pistons 14-12, Celtics 14-10