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Auburn Hills — In the first half of the Pistons’ loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday, Andre Drummond was almost invisible.

He had four points and three rebounds in 18 minutes — far from the string of double-doubles he’s notched in the first part of what’s almost assuredly his first All-Star season.

Drummond seemed to be slogging his way through the game, losing the head-to-head matchup against the Knicks’ Robin Lopez.

Then things seemed to clear up, as Drummond got a dunk off a pass from Reggie Jackson, and added a tip dunk off a missed shot. On the next trip, he hit a hook shot, for six points in less than two minutes, completing a 9-0 run and pulling the Pistons within two points.

It’s just a small sample of how Drummond can impact a game when he’s engaged and plugged into the action.

“We need Andre’s energy. When he’s playing with energy at both ends of the floor, that’s probably the most important thing for us,” coach Stan Van Gundy said Thursday. “Secondarily, would be what Reggie’s energy is like at both ends. Those are our two key guys.”

As a big and athletic center, it’s sometimes difficult for Drummond to maintain the same energy level throughout an entire game. At 6-foot-11, 280 pounds, he moves well, but the toll of a condensed schedule — as the Pistons had in the first 30 games — can start to take its toll.

But Van Gundy reiterated that Drummond’s conditioning isn’t an issue; it’s more mental and staying plugged into everything that’s going on.

“He’s in very, very good shape. It’s a focus and everything else,” he said. “I don’t question that he wants to do it, but you’ve got to consciously focus on doing things: running the floor, protecting the rim and being active defensively. It’s got to be a conscious thing.”

While Drummond had similar statistics (13 points and nine rebounds) to Lopez (11 points, seven rebounds and six blocks), the difference in energy level throughout the entire game was one of the noticeable differences.

“Robin’s effort was tremendous in that game — everything he did was hard, offensively and defensively” Van Gundy said. “He posted hard, he made forceful moves, he screened, he rolled hard, he contested everything. It was a high-energy, high-effort night.

(Lopez) is usually a high-energy, high-effort guy and that was one of his best games. He did an outstanding job and I don’t think Andre met the challenge of his energy as well as he could have.”

A bunch of bunk

As many people make New Year’s resolutions to try to improve themselves, Van Gundy doesn’t share in the annual self-help routine. With a three-game losing streak, he just wants to return to the form the Pistons showed in the first two months of the season.

“I’m not into that stuff. We just have to get back to playing better,” he said. “New Year’s doesn’t mean any more to me than any other day. I’m often resolving to try to do things better, both with my team and even with my life. New Year’s has never been a real big deal to me.”

No after effects

Brandon Jennings, who played in his first game this season against the Knicks on Tuesday, didn’t have any residual issues on Wednesday.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard

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