New Orleans — Pistons center Andre Drummond made history on Wednesday night, but wasn’t able to make another big statement on Thursday.
Drummond, who was in position to be selected a starter in the NBA All-Star Game in the early returns, fell short in the final fan voting, announced Thursday night. The top three frontcourt players who will start for the Eastern Conference are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George and the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony.
The All-Star Game will be Feb. 14 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Drummond still has a chance to be the Pistons’ first All-Star since Allen Iverson in 2009; he could be picked by coaches to be a reserve; results will be announced Jan. 28.
“I think the coaches will end up voting him in — that would be my guess,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said before Thursday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
In fan balloting, Drummond received 515,296 votes, about 52,000 fewer than Anthony. Drummond was third in initial voting and fell to fourth in the most recent balloting last week. He dropped to fifth, behind Chicago Bulls big man Pau Gasol (566,988) in the final voting.
Drummond, in his fourth season, is having his best year, with a career-high 17.6 points and leads the league in rebounding (15.4). He also is hitting 52 percent on field goals, but his biggest struggles are in free throws, where he’s shooting a career-low 36 percent.
On Wednesday night, he set an NBA single-game record, missing 23 of his franchise-record 36 free throws in a 123-114 victory at Houston. He was intentionally fouled and attempted 16 free throws in the first 2½ minutes of the third quarter.
But Drummond has shown plenty of improvement in other areas to warrant an All-Star nod this season.
"He’s a much more polished guy offensively. He’s gotten better defensively; he still has a ways to go and he’s up and down but he’s certainly improved there," Van Gundy said. "He was always a great rebounder, so it’s mainly the improvement on the offensive end."
After Greg Monroe left in free agency last offseason, the middle opened up for Drummond to hone his game — and he’s answered. The Pistons, who have missed the playoffs the last six seasons, are on pace to make it back to the postseason, due in part to Drummond.
“I just got to let it come. I’m playing on a great team and we’re winning games,” Drummond said Wednesday. “The individual awards will come. If it happens, fantastic; if it doesn’t, we have more work to do.”
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, in his final season, led the overall voting, garnering 1,891,614 votes. He leads the Western Conference starting lineup, along with Kevin Durant (Thunder), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) and guards Stephen Curry (Warriors) and Russell Westbrook (Thunder).
The East frontcourt of James, George and Anthony will be joined by guards Dwyane Wade (Heat) and Kyle Lowry (Raptors).
ALL-STAR GAME STARTERS
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Paul George, Pacers
Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
Dwyane Wade, Heat
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
Kevin Durant, Thunder
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
Stephen Curry, Warriors
Russell Westbrook, Thunder