Pistons' Dwane Casey won't hold back on Blake Griffin's minutes

By Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — After shouldering the load throughout much of the first three games of the season, coach Dwane Casey does not see any nights off coming soon for Blake Griffin.

While players with injury histories across the league such as Gordon Hayward, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler already have sat out games, the Pistons coach does not see any “DNPs” in the immediate future for the league’s leading scorer.

Pistons forward Blake Griffin leads the NBA at scoring, averaging  36.3 points through the first three games.

“Different bodies, different people,” Casey said Wednesday, one night after Griffin scored a career-high 50 points and made the deciding basket and free throw in a 133-132 overtime win against Philadelphia. “Copycat league, but I’m doing what’s best for the Detroit Pistons.”

Casey said he expects Griffin to play Thursday against Cleveland after 44 minutes of action on Tuesday, and has no plans yet to sit Griffin even in back-to-back contests, such as Tuesday and Wednesday in Boston and Brooklyn.

“We’re in a situation where every game is important,” Casey said. “Anytime we can find him situations where we can buy him minutes, we’re going to try to do it.

“It depends on his body. I don’t want to have a concrete system. When Blake is healthy, I really would much rather go on the side of monitoring his minutes rather than not him playing back to back.”

Enough said

As his spat with Joel Embiid made the national news circles, Andre Drummond did not talk to reporters after Wednesday’s practice, passing word through a spokesman that he would talk Thursday.

Drummond was ejected after his second technical foul late in regulation Tuesday on a play where Embiid appeared to embellish the impact of a Drummond push.

“I think I own a lot of real estate in (Drummond’s) head,” Embiid said after Tuesday’s game, adding “he knows damn well he can’t guard me.”

Drummond responded on social media, tweeting about it and then posting, “that man is fat outta shape and talks all day. I’m not worried about him! If I can’t guard him why he so happy to have me out of the game. Was locking his ass up and running him to exhaustion,” in a comment on Instagram.

“He’s a young man,” Casey said Wednesday of Drummond, 25. “One thing a bully will do is try to goad you into different behavior and you’ve got to be above it. Andre has done a heck of a job this year of staying composed, playing within himself, but again, he’s such a competitor, I thought the moment got a little bit of him. 

“No big deal. He’s just got to learn and continue to grow, as we all do.”

Casey said he sent the video of Drummond’s second technical to the league offices with hopes of getting it rescinded.

Technical fouls are a $2,000 fine in the NBA and 16 technical fouls in a season would trigger an automatic one-game suspension.

Historically hot

Griffin’s big game was the seventh 50-plus point game in franchise history.

The last 50-point game for the Pistons was Richard Hamilton’s 51-point effort in a 2006 triple-overtime loss at the New York Knicks.

The other Pistons to hit the mark are: George Yardley (51 and 52 in 1958), Dave Bing (54 in 1971), Kelly Tripucka (56 in 1983), and Jerry Stackhouse (57 in 2001).

Griffin now leads the NBA in scoring leading into Wednesday’s games at 36.3 points per game, leading Charlotte’s Kemba Walker by more than 3 points per game.

Yardley (1957-58) and Bing (67-68) are the only Pistons to lead the NBA in scoring for an entire season.

Andre Drummond leads the league in rebounding at 16.3 rebounds per game. He has been the NBA’s top rebounder in two seasons, including last season (16 per game).

King succession

The post-LeBron James era in Cleveland is off to a shaky start heading into Thursday’s game in Detroit, as the Kevin Love-led team is 0-3 after losing Sunday to cellar dweller Atlanta.

Cleveland plays host to Brooklyn on Wednesday for the first game of a back to back.

Pistons reserve point guard Jose Calderon played with Cleveland last season, starting 32 games in the regular season as the Cavs made their fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals.

Calderon has played four minutes in one appearance for the Pistons this season.

Crucial cause

The Pistons will wear pink shoes on Thursday to promote breast cancer awareness.

Stanley Johnson will meet with survivors after the game and the Pistons will host a pregame informational panel, in conjunction with Henry Ford Health Systems, at 5:30 p.m. at Heritage Hall in Little Caesars Arena for any interested ticket holders.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.