Pistons Snip the Nets

Another dominant Drummond stretch powers win at Brooklyn


The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

WHITE HOT – Andre Drummond had another brilliant stretch of basketball, as he did in Thursday’s 112-107 loss to Miami, this time in the second quarter. Drummond had eight points, four boards, two steals and a blocked shot in eight minutes as the Pistons took a 52-48 halftime lead en route to a 99-88 win. Drummond finished with 15 points and six rebounds and Greg Monroe and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 12 each. Rookie Tony Mitchell finished with a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. Brooklyn didn’t play Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brook Lopez after halftime, but the Pistons more than held their own during a hotly contested first half. The Pistons again were without guards Brandon Jennings (wisdom tooth pain), Rodney Stuckey (thumb) and Chauncey Billups, whose workload is being monitored.

BLUE COLLAR – With rookie Peyton Siva making his debut after missing the first 10 days of training camp with a partially torn calf muscle, Will Bynum didn’t have to play nearly every second, as he did two nights earlier against Miami. But Bynum, who missed the preseason opener with a hip injury, played 26 minutes before shutting it down midway through the third quarter and had another impressive outing. He racked up 11 assists, hitting Andre Drummond for two lob dunks and Tony Mitchell for another, and scored six points, taking just five shots.

RED FLAG – Too many turnovers. Might not be anything more than getting Rodney Stuckey, Chauncey Billups and Brandon Jennings back to take better care of the ball, but the Pistons committed 28 turnovers. They created their share of havoc, too, forcing 21 Brooklyn turnovers and actually winning the battle of points off turnovers, 22-21. The Nets, who played without Deron Williams, might have won if they’d done a better job at the foul line, where they finished 30 of 53.

NEW YORK – Andre Drummond went to the foul line three times in the first quarter at Brooklyn, which employed a Hack-a-Dre strategy against him in Summer League, and made all three.

The NBA winced.

The Pistons threw the ball into Drummond, mid-post to the right of the basket, midway through the second quarter, with massive Brook Lopez guarding him. Drummond turned and coolly flicked in a 10-foot hook shot.

The NBA shuddered.

Drummond wreaked his share of havoc as an NBA rookie despite a limited role in which his offensive post game was non-existent and his foul shooting was execrable.

And the Pistons would live with holes in those parts of his game as long as he still dunked, rebounded, blocked shots and provided a generally menacing presence. But he’s showing signs of becoming more than just a dominant specialist.

“It’s amazing,” Maurice Cheeks said of Drummond’s superb second-quarter stretch in which he scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds, collected two steals and blocked a shot as the Pistons, now 2-1, took the lead and went on to a 99-88 win over Brooklyn before a packed Barclays Center crowd ready to cheer on the refortified Nets.

“Him running the floor and getting those lobs … he had one or two post moves – that’s not something we do, run post plays for him – but he always ends up with the ball. He rebounds the ball, he runs the floor and just the way he plays, it’s amazing, him playing the way he does.”

“When I do have those spurts where I dominate the game,” Drummond said, “it’s like I’m in a zone at that point.

“It’s just the flow of the game. The guys on the court make me feel so comfortable. Playing alongside Greg, Josh, Will and Kyle, I mean, we have a good bond already on the court together. You can see we all know where we need to be on the court and we know each others’ spots and where we like to get the ball.”

Cheeks credited assistant coach Rasheed Wallace for his work developing Drummond’s hook and other post moves.

“That’s one of the things he’s incorporated into his game,” Cheeks said. “That’s been a plus for him and will pay huge dividends for us later on.”

Drummond is now 9 of 12 at the line so far in preseason after shooting 37 percent as a rookie.

“If he makes foul shots, he’s going to be doubly tough,” Cheeks said. “If he can play that way, we’re going to be tough.”

Drummond was proud of the way the Pistons competed against a Nets team loaded with All-Stars. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson started – Deron Williams missed the game with a sprained ankle – but before a crowd amped beyond preseason intensity, the Pistons played hard from the outset.

“We came out and we punched them in the mouth first,” Drummond said. “We didn’t let them jump on us first. We did our best to get after them first – try to run the floor on them, try to make them run after us – and it turned out to be a pretty good outcome.”

The Pistons, again playing without guards Chauncey Billups, Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey, got encouraging outings from all three of their 2013 draft picks. Peyton Siva debuted after being idled for the first 10 days of training camp, giving the Pistons eight points and two assists in 15 minutes. He committed five turnovers, but Cheeks liked what he saw given the rust.

“I like Siva,” he said. “I like the way he plays. He’s got to get used to the pro game, but I like the way he runs his team. I like the way he controls the game.”

“I haven’t played five-on-five basketball since Summer League,” Siva said. “Just getting out there and getting used to the pace again is a great learning experience. Now that I got out there, it’ll slow down for me a little bit.”

Tony Mitchell recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes and flashed his elite athleticism several times, including a spectacular put-back of a Kyle Singler miss and a blocked shot of Tyshawn Taylor. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s outside shooting struggles continued (0 of 5 from the 3-point arc), but he scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds, giving him 19 boards in three games.

“Tony was good – defensively, offensively, just efficient,” Cheeks said. “He’s got to get away from goaltending and hanging on the rim, but I like his game. Kentavious just plays. He doesn’t live and die with his shot. He lives and dies with playing hard. That’s what keeps him getting on the floor.”