Career day for Andre Drummond as Pistons roll to 115-100 win over 76ers
For all the rough edges to him and all the hurdles yet to be cleared, rarely has a 20-year-old affected NBA games quite the way the Pistons’ wunderkind now does almost routinely.
It isn’t always as dramatic as Sunday, when he put career bests in points (31), rebounds (19) and steals (six), but it was his 12th double-double in 17 games this season. And it gave the Pistons a win they badly needed, 115-100 over Philadelphia, after two disheartening home losses.
When Maurice Cheeks interviewed last summer, he had a vague idea of what Drummond could do. But the Pistons played Oklahoma City, for whom Cheeks served as an assistant coach, twice in the season’s first eight games during his rookie year, so he really had little feel for what Drummond was ready to shoulder early in his second season.
“I didn’t know,” Cheeks said. “Joe (Dumars) told me he was on the upswing, but I didn’t know. I’d watched him a few times, but I didn’t know he’d be as good as he is now. But, trust me, he reminds me every day how many double-doubles he has. He likes it. He enjoys rebounding a lot. He’s just a good kid.”
His free-throw shooting, of course, remains adventurous, which explains why rookie Philly coach Brett Brown began intentionally fouling midway through the third quarter with the 76ers trying to whittle down a 24-point halftime deficit. Drummond went 1 of 6 on three trips to the line before Cheeks removed him from the game. When he brought him back to start the fourth, Drummond already had 21 points, 17 rebounds and four steals.
He enjoys rebounding a lot. He’s just a good kid."- Head coach Maurice Cheeks on Andre Drummond
Full game quotes
“I wouldn’t put anyone back in the game to get a milestone,” Cheeks said. “If you’re good enough to get a milestone, you’ll get it again.”
According to ESPN, Drummond was the first player to hit the 31-19-6 trifecta or better since Hakeem Olajuwon did it 23 years ago. Drummond wasn’t swept away by joining such exclusive company. He also joins Charles Barkley as the only player since 1973-74 to score 30-plus points, grab 18-plus rebounds and get five-plus steals with 80 percent shooting in a game.
“I’m worried about what’s happening now and what’s going on today,” he said. “It was a great win, but we’ve got to focus. We’ve got another one on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today is over. You can celebrate, but for so long.”
Drummond’s 31 points came on 12 of 15 shooting from the field as he continues to evolve as a post player. Several of his baskets came with defenders between him and the rim.
“I work on it hard in practice,” he said. “It comes to a point where I’m not going to be able to jump as high as I do, I’m not going to be as quick. I have to be able to do other things with the ball, so I work on it in practice, day in and day out, with the right- and left-hand jump hooks and beating my guy off the dribble.”
Drummond wasn’t the only Piston to put up dazzling numbers on a day they hit their first six 3-pointers. Brandon Jennings, like Drummond, had a double-double by halftime. He said he would be increasingly aware of Drummond in the post now that he’s seen him show the ability to do damage.
“But Andre, he’s going to get points regardless,” said Jennings, who finished with 20 points and 12 assists. “He crashes the boards, he runs the floor well, he’s not even a guy you have to run a play for.”
“He could probably be our best post-up player, because when he catches the ball, he makes it easy now,” said Cheeks, who said he actually ran a few plays designed to feed Drummond on Sunday. “Before, he was doing two or three different things with the ball. Now he just kind of takes his time and has one shot, his jump hook, and he gets more comfortable with shooting the ball under the basket with a post-up move, then you run more plays for him.”
After the fourth-quarter fades in disappointing losses to Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers, Cheeks was happy with the way the Pistons played before heading out to play Miami and Milwaukee.
“We responded well,” Cheeks said after the Pistons set season highs for points in a quarter (40) and half (70). “It was a disappointing loss against the Lakers, but as I said to our guys, this is the NBA. We’ve got to flip the switch and move on, and we responded well.”
“It was very important,” Jennings said. “Right now, it doesn’t get any easier. We’re a month into the season and we’ve got to keep on pushing. We’ve got to turn the corner right now. No excuses.”