Drummond's all-around effort helps Pistons beat Pacers
Detroit — Good things can’t last forever.
The days of Andre Drummond hitting 75 percent on free throws — almost double his career average — through the first 10 games, was bound to slow at some point.
The first snag came Wednesday night.
Drummond had his worst game of the season from the free-throw line — missing all seven attempts — but had a stellar all-around game to make up for it, helping the Pistons win their third straight, 114-97, over the Indiana Pacers at Little Caesars Arena.
He finished with 14 points, 21 rebounds and four assists, for his eighth double-double in 11 games.
And he had some help.
Tobias Harris had 23 points and eight rebounds, Reggie Jackson added 18 points and six assists and Avery Bradley 14 points for the Pistons (8-3), who shot 52 percent from the field and 44 percent (12-of-27) on 3-pointers.
“Offensively, we played pretty well for most of the night and defensively, especially in the second and fourth, we were really good defensively,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We did enough to get by. I didn’t really like the way we handled the ball but other than that, I thought we played pretty well.”
The Pacers (5-7) entered as one of the top offenses in the league, which concerned Van Gundy, but the Pistons were able to avoid another slow start and defend well enough to slow down Victor Oladipo, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. The Pacers kept pushing, behind Thaddeus Young (16 points), but seemed to slow in the second half, playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
“They made some plays and once again, we didn’t get the stops we needed,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “It looked like we were a little fatigued tonight and just didn’t have enough.”
The Pistons surged in the fourth quarter, with a 32-22 margin, behind Drummond, who had eight points and eight rebounds in the final period. Jackson, his pick-and-roll partner, added seven points, including a highlight-reel bounce pass between his legs to Drummond for a thunderous dunk.
Drummond had two of the decisive baskets to help put the game away, with a drive and a putback dunk, part of a 6-2 run that helped push the lead to 99-84 with 5:58 to go.
Oladipo answered Drummond’s surge with a three-point play, igniting an 8-0 run and getting the margin down to seven with 3:44 left. Harris added a 3-pointer and the Pistons responded with 10 straight points, a 3-pointer and free throw by Jackson and finishing with Harris’ three-point play with 1:17 remaining, for their largest lead, 109-92.
Drummond said he knew his emotional impact on the team and even with his slow start, couldn’t let it show that he wasn’t at his best, especially after the foul trouble. He bounced back nicely from the missed free throws and dominated in the paint in the second half.
“Obviously, the day was, I knew it was going to come; I was in a really good streak. I’m not really worried about it,” Drummond said. “I’ve done what I needed to do to make good shots: I missed shots and I was short today. I’ll watch film of what I was doing wrong and I’m pretty sure I’ll make the most of it.”
The Pistons looked to be in trouble early, when Drummond picked up his second foul at the 6:29 mark of the first quarter. They were holding a 13-9 lead and by the end of the period were trailing, 30-22, as Al Jefferson (19 points) got going with three straight baskets.
The Pistons bench got going and with the big second quarter, gave the starters a lead. Defense was the key that kept them in the game, especially in trying to limit Oladipo.
“Our game plan was to make their looks hard and really bring the pressure early in the start of the game,” Harris said. “(Oladipo) was able to get some good buckets. He’s a good player, really good in transition and shooting the 3 ball really well.
“Avery and the guys that were on him did a pretty good job on him.”
The Pistons had a 59-52 lead at halftime after two free throws and a putback by Boban Marjanovic, but Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points) had a coast-to-coast drive to beat the buzzer.
The Pacers led by 11 points in the first half.
Indiana turned things around to start the third, with an 8-3 spurt, with a lay-in by Bogdanovic, a putback dunk by Oladipo, a hook by Young and a turnaround by Al Jefferson (19 points).
Drummond missed two free throws and Bogdanovic hit a technical-foul free throw after a defensive 3-seconds call. Harris ended the drought with a three-point play, but the Pacers kept surging, with a jumper by Darren Collison and a steal and dunk by Oladipo.