Detroit — The Pistons may have to adjust to a new normal on the injury front.
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond missed Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards because of injuries. After being out for Saturday’s game at Houston because of eye inflammation, Drummond was looking to return to the lineup, but difficulty inserting his contact lenses prevented him from playing
Griffin missed the second half Saturday because of soreness in his left knee and didn’t return to the game. Coach Dwane Casey said Griffin had an MRI but there wasn’t any concern that there was any structural damage.
“Blake is dealing with serious knee soreness and we’re taking a precautionary vibe with it. We wanted to make sure he didn’t play the second half the other night and we’re holding him out tonight, just to be cautious and go slow,” Casey said. “It’s the same thought process we had to begin the season we’re going to continue tonight.”
Griffin missed the first 10 games this season because of knee issues and the Pistons medical staff brought him back slowly, ramping up his minutes over the course of some weeks to get him back to where he was.
Saturday’s setback doesn’t mean that Griffin will be out for the long term; rather, they’ll just be a bit more conservative in how they utilize his minutes.
“Blake had a precautionary MRI. It wasn’t anything required or anything, but we wanted to check and see. It’s the normal soreness but we’re going to err on the side of being cautious because of his history,” Casey said. “It’s nothing different than we’ve done all year. we held him out of back-to-backs and his knee was sore (in Mexico City).
“His minutes have gone up, so we want to keep him down, but we need him and (his minutes have) shot up.”
Drummond will miss his second straight game as a residual effect of his allergic reaction to avocados on the trip to Mexico City. He experienced some swelling and irritation in his left eye and was unable to insert his contact lenses so that he can see.
Drummond has been durable throughout most of his career, having missed only eight games total in the past six seasons. He hasn’t missed more than three games in a season since his rookie year in 2012-13, when he played 60 games.
Initially, Casey thought that Drummond might be able to play Monday, but the irritation prevented it.
“He’s having trouble with avocados. Don’t mess with avocados in Mexico,” Casey joked. “He’s going to see if he can go; if he can, he’ll go. (The right) eye was better and the other eye hasn’t come around as much and he couldn’t get his contacts in.”
With Griffin and Drummond out, the Pistons played well in the second half against the Rockets and they had another challenge against the Wizards. Their success is built on having a change of pace and different styles with the reserves compared to the starting unit.
“Our second unit has been consistent all year. They play a different style than our first unit and it’s a style that fit playing against Houston, a quicker style and it was good for us,” Casey said. “Guys took advantage of the opportunity with guys being out. Most of all, our defense carried us; our defense made it hard on them.
“We didn’t stop (James) Harden — no one is stopping him — but we slowed him down. We had guys shooting that we wanted to shoot it. Overall, it was a good defensive night for us.”
In the absence of Drummond and Griffin, Thon Maker and Markieff Morris were in the starting lineup, in an effort to maintain the composition of the second unit.
Brown brings it
Bruce Brown was lauded for his defensive effort in guarding Harden and getting him out of his comfort zone of walking the ball up the court. His defense is starting to earn him a reputation around the league.
“The kid, that’s his calling card. Everybody talks about his shooting and how he’s not doing this or not doing that,” Casey said. “He is an elite defender and shooting is going to come. It is going to come down the road, and we are not in a hurry with it.
Brown had 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals and showed his all-around game against the Rockets.