In final minutes of Wednesday’s preseason victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Andre Drummond was still out on the floor, still going hard.
Thunder big man Steven Adams remained on the bench, having finished the night with 17 points and 12 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end. Adams had nothing left to prove, but for Drummond, a mediocre first half wasn’t what Pistons coach Dwane Casey wanted to leave in Drummond’s mind.
Drummond stayed in the game until the very end, tallying 31 points and 16 rebounds in 34 minutes — a less-than-ideal situation for a preseason matchup. Getting a victory may not seem important, but Casey got something out of the effort.
“The most important thing is fighting through adversity. We're on the road, and our road record was atrocious last year,” Casey told reporters Wednesday. “One thing you have to do is fight through adversity, take punches and get back in the game. And we did it twice. In the first half and in the second half they threw a haymaker, but we withstood it.
“We stayed tough, stayed tough-minded and finished the game. We have a lot of things we need to work on, we did a lot of good things, but there’s a lot of things we need to work on, and this is going to help us.”
The move was somewhat out of necessity, as Blake Griffin and Jon Leuer didn’t dress for the game and the Pistons didn’t have many options at center. The other reason was to get a win and to establish a positive mindset for Drummond in the Casey era, which continues Friday at San Antonio.
“Andre is very, very talented. The one thing he’s always fighting is consistency,” Casey said. “Now, he’s got to ramp it back up and bring it Friday night, then he’s got to ramp it back up and bring it Monday night (at home against the Nets).
“He’s an All-Star when he plays the way he played (Wednesday), but you’ve got to do it each and every night to be elite. I think he has the ability and the ceiling to get there.”
Drummond’s expansion of his game still is a work in progress, as he went 0-for-3 on 3-pointers and missed another long jumper. Other than those attempts, Drummond went 14-of-17 from the field, and showed good touch and aggressiveness around the rim.
Although there were plenty of things to like about Drummond’s performance, the fact that Reggie Jackson and Griffin didn’t play is significant. In the regular season, Drummond likely won’t get as many looks and almost certainly won’t play as any minutes.
The good sign is that Drummond went to the rim and wasn’t hesitant to hunt for his shot.
“The game just came to me. Just got back into NBA mode again,” Drummond told reporters. “That’s all it was. We haven’t played in so long, so we just had to get back into the swing of things and get the feel of my spots on the floor and start having fun.”
It’s unclear whether Casey will limit Drummond’s minutes — or Stanley Johnson, who played 37 minutes — for Friday’s game against the Spurs.
Letting it fly
The Pistons’ new focus on 3-pointers and shots in the paint came to fruition on Wednesday, with the team taking 79 of its 84 shots in those areas. Casey has hammered home the desire to take only high-percentage field goals and the preseason opener was an exhibit in that philosophy.
Though the Pistons only hit 24 percent (9-for-37) from 3-point range, the offense looked to be moving the ball well, with spacing and passing creating some good looks at the basket.
Ish Smith was 1-for-6 on 3-pointers, but his one make came in the final minute, helping push the lead to six and providing the final margin. Through the Pistons’ struggles, the mentality is to continue shooting. That all fits into their new approach toward offense.
“I try to take the 3s, good 3s, and get the layups. We kind of got a little bit tired as you can see there in the fourth quarter but as far as pace it was pretty good,” Smith said. “And once we start getting confident and keep taking those shots even when we miss, I think it will fall into place.”
Pistons at Spurs
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. Friday, AT&T Center, San Antonio
TV/radio: No TV/97.1
Outlook: The Pistons (1-0) will get their first look at the new-look Spurs (1-0) with the addition of DeMar DeRozan. It’s the Pistons’ last true road game of the preseason and it’s unclear whether Reggie Jackson or Blake Griffin will play after missing Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma City.