Pistons forward talks about how he's getting more chances with the arrival of Blake Griffin. Rod Beard
Detroit — Call it the Blake Effect.
Defenses are swarming, paying more attention to Blake Griffin and trying to keep him from driving the lane and getting to the basket easily. Meanwhile, it opens easier opportunities for Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson and the outside shooters.
It’s still a work in progress for the Pistons, who still are finding out all the benefits that having Blake Griffin as part of the offense will bring. They haven’t had a lot of time to orient Griffin to the playbook and the offensive system, with just a walk-through on Thursday before the win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
On Saturday, Griffin wasn’t quite as sharp, but the Pistons were able to hold on for a 111-107 win over the Miami Heat, for their third straight win.
“Playing with Blake is still new to us. We had an hour and a half, and now we’ve had, what, two days now? So it’s still not the greatest stuff in the world, but if we can do that every night, regardless with what we have in, it doesn’t matter,” Johnson said. “We’ll give ourselves a really good chance to win, so we want to bring that to every game and it’s really great that we can do it now, especially not having the communication that we need.
“It’s not that we’re bad; it’s just kind of what we’re doing right now.”
The charge on coach Stan Van Gundy is to put all the puzzle pieces together and fit it into a pretty picture. So far, after two wins with Griffin in the lineup, it’s doable, but it’s going to require some refining.
Even with 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists from Griffin, it’s still not as clean as it’s going to look when they have more opportunity to sit and talk and really sketch out some plays and fit it all together.
“I have to get figured out offensively. I’m not helping (Griffin) or us a lot. You can see today in the early fourth quarter, we were actually a lot smoother when he was out because we were just playing,” Van Gundy said. “I’ve got this great player now and we’re just sort of playing to him all the time and the defense is all loaded up. Blake felt the same way talking after the game.
“We just need to play, get the ball moving and he’ll find his way.”
The Pistons were shorthanded because of an illness that’s sweeping through the team. The coaching staff has been affected, with associate head coach Bob Beyer missing the last two games, along with Malik Allen.
On Saturday, Dwight Buycks was sick and didn’t play and Luke Kennard missed the game because of a foot injury. That forced the Pistons into some odd lineups, because the only healthy guard they had was Langston Galloway. In the second quarter, they had Anthony Tolliver playing small forward and Henry Ellenson playing at the big forward.
Plenty of twentys
Andre Drummond’s stat line of 23 points and 20 rebounds was his sixth 20/20 game this season, leading the league. He also did it for the third time in the last six games, a feat that he also accomplished last season.
In his career, Drummond has notched a 20/20 game 19 times, leading the league — DeMarcus Cousins has 15 and Dwight Howard nine.