Drummond's blocks highlight defensive improvement
Detroit — Celtics forward Jayson Tatum had a clear lane to the rim.
With the game in the balance in the final minutes and the Pistons holding a slim lead, Andre Drummond stepped into the paint for the one-on-one matchup.
Advantage: Big man.
Drummond made a highlight-reel block on Tatum’s dunk attempt and the Pistons held on for a 113-104 victory over the Celtics on Saturday night. It was one of five blocks for Drummond, who added 19 points and 20 rebounds. Drummond also had five blocks against the Hornets on Wednesday.
Blake Griffin saw how critical Drummond’s defense was in displaying a toughness and helping put the game away.
“There was a play late and Marcus Smart got a little reverse layup. I went to Dre and said, ‘No more. Somebody has to go through your chest or over the top of you and they can’t do either.’
“The next play down, Tatum went up for a dunk and you saw what happened. That’s winning basketball. I told him he’s capable of doing that.”
For Drummond, it was the notion that if Tatum made the dunk, it would have helped boost the Celtics, who were struggling but holding on in the final minutes. He created a wall and made the big play.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘If he gets this dunk, it’s going to ignite their entire team. I said I have to do something. I just took that last step and met him at the rim,” Drummond said. “Timing is all it is, when I jump and which hand I use.
“I’m so used to using my left hand and now I’m using my right hand as well. I’m starting to figure it out more and get used to blocking shots without fouling.”
That’s the big change in Drummond’s defense this season: getting more ball on his blocks and not getting the foul calls. He’s averaging 1.9 blocks, tied for his career best and he’s more of a presence around the rim, affecting even shots that he doesn’t block.
The combination is helping Drummond in all parts of his game, which is clear in his stat lines and confidence on the defensive end.
“You see the box score and you see (20 points and 20 rebounds), but his effect on the game goes so much further than the box score,” Griffin said. “Plays like that tonight are how you come up with a win.
“Teams are scared to come in there … We’re a scary duo. It’s not only those registered blocks but it’s also the ones where he comes and launches at you.”