A Drummond half-court triple, a T for an untucked shirt – just another crazy night at The Palace
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The entertainment value of a Pistons ticket has spiraled upward exponentially this season at The Palace. Eight of the 13 home games have been decided by five points or less, another by seven – each of those games not decided until the last minute. Three games have gone to overtime.
The Pistons are 10-4 at home with three blowout wins – 23 points over Miami, 22 over Indiana, 20 over the Los Angeles Lakers. The average margin of victory has been 10.5 points and the closest win coming Wednesday in the 119-116 edging of Boston.
The four Pistons losses at The Palace have been by an average of 4.3 points, but the last three have been by a total of five points – and, in each case, the Pistons had a last shot to win or tie.
They’ve been beaten by a half-court shot – Memphis’ Matt Barnes – and used an equally unlikely one from Andre Drummond, beating the halftime buzzer, in the three-point win over Boston.
That shot might have been just what Drummond needed to snap him from a lethargic start to the game. Until it went down, he’d given the Pistons two points and three rebounds in 18 first-half minutes. He finished with 16 and 12.
“From the person it came from, it was kind of funny,” Marcus Morris grinned after the game. “But I just had a feeling he was going to make it. He shoots them a lot. He makes those type of shots, for some reason. I don’t know what it is, but he does a lot. I’m happy for him.”
Drummond, indeed, usually ends his practice and pregame routines by launching a half-court shot, which his strength allows him to shoot without exaggerated motion.
“It’s a shot that I take all the time,” he said. “I shoot it in practice. I shoot it before every game and I took it with confidence and it went in.”
The bizarre has become a Palace staple, from the Barnes’ dagger to J.J. Redick jumping on Drummond’s back while his teammate was sinking a free throw to draw an intentional foul, to a wardrobe malfunction from Stanley Johnson.
The Pistons gave up a critical point with 2:10 to play Wednesday when Johnson was whistled for a delay of game technical for the unpardonable sin of having his jersey untucked as he was coming into the game from the scorer’s table. Isaiah Thomas, already headed to the free-throw line for a shooting foul, drained three free throws to pull Boston within four points.
“Really, you could see how much that delayed the game, too,” Stan Van Gundy said, tongue firmly in cheek. “As he was tucking it in, running onto the floor, I mean, I don’t know – maybe a tenth of a second. I understand the league trying to speed stuff up. It’s the rule and we’ve got to go with that.
“But it’s funny. We get a delay of game on that, but then when we’re shooting free throws they’ll stop and let Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley walk around and tell each guy on the team what the play is. That’s not delaying the game? But Stanley tucking in his shirt while he’s running on the court, Oh, my God – that’s delaying the game.”
The Pistons survived that call, though, the latest in a string of quirky plays in an amazingly entertaining season so far. They’ll do it again the day after Christmas when Boston makes a return trip. Those tickets might just make a pretty good stocking stuffer.