Drummond's 20-20 sees Pistons to 2nd straight win

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Pistons' Beno Udrih scores over the Bucks' Matthew Dellavedova in the second quarter.

Auburn Hills — Andre Drummond talked about how he focused on improving every facet of his game during the offseason.

He put it on display Sunday, recording 20 points and 23 rebounds on an array of up-and-under moves, dribble drives, tip in and even free throws to power the Pistons their second straight win with a 98-83 victory over the Bucks at The Palace.

It was Drummond’s 10th career 20-20 game and second straight 20-rebound game. He added three blocks and shot 50 percent from both the field (8-for-16) and free-throw line (4-for-8).

BOX SCORE: Pistons 98, Bucks 83

"I worked hard this summer on all aspects,” Drummond said. “The work is just showing. I put a lot of work in and it's coming to light right now."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope broke out his shooting slump with 21 points, while Tobias Harris added 16 points, and Marcus Morris and Ish Smith scored 11 apiece for the Pistons (2-1).

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 17, Jabari Parker 13, Greg Monroe 11 and Matthew Dellavedova 10 for the Bucks (1-2), who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

After taking a 50-39 lead into halftime, the Pistons unraveled on both ends of the floor for much of the third quarter.

The Bucks easily scored their first six points in the paint before Antetokounmpo hit three straight shots — two deep jumpers and a wide-open 3-pointer — to make it 57-52 with 7:50 remaining.

It continued to get worse for the Pistons as Monroe and Antetokounmpo cashed in on consecutive Smith turnovers with a layup and two free throws, respectively, to trim it to 62-60 at the 4:18 mark.

But the Pistons were able to get out on fast breaks as Harris and Caldwell-Pope finished the quarter with a vengeance, rattling off a 7-0 run in the final 45 seconds to reassume control with a 75-65 lead. Harris started it with a jumper, Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer from the wing and Harris finished the flurry with a one-handed dunk.

"I thought the best thing of the game is I thought we played a pretty low energy third quarter for the first nine minutes of it and let them right back in the game,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We responded well to that and opened it back to double figures basically with our defense the last three minutes of the quarter and getting out in transition.”

The Bucks struck first in the fourth on a Parker free throw and Monroe three-point play to claw back at 75-69 with 10:41 left.

The Pistons delivered the haymaker with an 11-2 run to pull away for a 90-75 lead with 5:18 left. Morris scored five straight — a 3-pointer and two free throws — and Harris nailed a pair of jumpers while Drummond punctuated it with a tip slam.

The Bucks went to the “Beat-A-Drum” strategy and Drummond’s free-throws woes crept back up as he made 1-of-4 attempts within a 24-second span to make it 91-77 with 3:54 left.

Van Gundy called on Aron Baynes to help close out the game and he hit three straight free throws before Caldwell-Pope hit another pair of free throws to ice it in the final three minutes, 12 seconds.

“(Drummond’s) just been really willing offensively to give himself up,” Van Gundy said. “He knows the attention he draws and he's been willing to do that. It's frustrating at times but he's still getting shots.

“A lot of them are offensive rebounds I understand that but he's still getting the ball down there and getting a chance to score, but it's not an easy way to play. It's a way to play when you're all about winning and that's what he has been."

The Pistons opened the game by hitting seven of their first eight shots. After Drummond opened the scoring by driving to the rim and finishing with an up-and-under move, Harris and Caldwell-Pope each hit their first three shots and combined to score the next 14 points to stake the Pistons a 16-9 advantage with 7:29 left in the first.

“One of the biggest things I worked on in the summer was attacking from the face-up,” Drummond said. “I'm a lot quicker than most of the bigs in the league and I use it to my advantage and it's been working really well."

The Bucks slowly chipped away at the lead and closed out with a 6-2 run on two Antetokounmpo free throws, a floater by Malcolm Brogdon and Monroe driving layup to cut it to 24-21 after one.

The Pistons’ bench, which let so many leads slip away last season, helped provide some cushion with a 10-3 spurt to open the second quarter.

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Baynes scored on a putback, Jon Leuer added a hook shot, and Beno Udrih sandwiched a pair of layups around a vicious one-handed, fast-break dunk by Drummond to give the Pistons a 34-23 lead at the 8:37 mark.

The Bucks were able to cut it to six, 38-32, but Pistons quickly pushed it back to double digits with a 9-2 run to make it 47-34 with 3:20 left. Drummond hit two free throws and tipped in his own missed layup attempt, Caldwell-Pope sank two free throws and Smith finished it with a three-point play en route to a 50-39 lead at the break.

“(Drummond’s) doing a great job and it helps us out,” Harris said. “Defensively, it helps us out a whole bunch just by grabbing those rebounds and contesting shots. He is working his butt off on the defensive end.

“Then offensively, he’s getting on the glass and getting offensive rebounds, and those are turning into points. He is playing confident right now and we really need that from him.”