That’s a Start
Pistons snap losing skid, dominate inside behind Drummond in rout of Magic
Andre Drummond began Tuesday’s game the way Usain Bolt begins the 100-meter dash: at a full sprint. He was already well on his way to his season’s 33rd double-double with eight points and four rebounds midway through the first quarter.
But when he stayed under the basket after tipping in Greg Monroe’s miss as play went the other way, his left shoe ripped off and his face twisted in agony, a season in danger of slipping away from the Pistons flashed before all of their eyes.
After a minute that felt like an hour, Drummond sat up and tugged his shoe back on, then walked to the bench under his own power. When play resumed after a timeout, he was back on the court, smiling and dominating.
“I was just a little shaken up,” he said afterward. “I’m all right. Nothing serious. It wasn’t bad when I got back up. I’m fine.”
Drummond finished with 13 points, 17 rebounds and two blocked shots, calling it a night midway through the fourth quarter after a rare lethargic game two nights earlier in Dallas, which came on the heels of his first career 20 and 20 game last Friday.
"To get a win tonight was definitely a good step in the right direction."
-Andre Drummond on the win
Full game quotes
“I told him at shootaround that he’s human,” Mo Cheeks said after the 103-87 win over Orlando snapped a four-game losing streak. “He’s not a machine. He’s entitled to have a bad game and it’s important to see how you bounce back. I thought he had a nice bounce-back game.”
Desperately needed, too. The Pistons had won just 3 of 14 games, a stretch that dated to their Dec. 27 loss – at Orlando. If you believe in karma, then the Pistons might be in for some good fortune, symbolized by Drummond dusting himself off and leading a defensive effort that stood head and shoulders above what the Pistons have managed to turn in of late.
“We really emphasized that today in our shootaround, the defense aspect of the game,” Drummond said. “It showed tonight. We were speaking, we were communicating and we were in the right spots defensively.”
Orlando shot 42 percent and scored just 60 points through three quarters, by which time the Pistons led by 18 points.
But they struggled enough on offense that it was still very much a game hanging in the balance midway through the third quarter when Orlando cut a 10-point halftime deficit to six. Out of a Pistons timeout, that’s what Kyle Singler helped turn the game into a rout.
He knocked down a 3-pointer – the Pistons were 2 of 15 from the arc at that point, the biggest reason they hadn’t already pulled away – and on the next possession his hard cut was rewarded by a Greg Monroe feed for a layup. The lead was suddenly 11 and the run extended to 9-0 for a 15-point edge. Orlando never came closer than a dozen points after that. Singler also contributed to the assault of the offensive glass with two second-quarter rebounds that led to four second-chance points, a category the Pistons ended up dominating 20-7.
“That’s the way Kyle plays,” Cheeks said. “He’s a guy that cuts, he slashes, and that opens the game up for us and for him and allows him to get more open jumpers. … Offensive rebounds is a hustle part of the game. Andre did it a couple of times and Kyle went and got a couple of offensive rebounds. They can turn a game around.”
“There are some plays that are contagious and bring energy throughout the team,” Singler said. “Steals on defense or dunks, those plays do bring energy and rhythm to the team. Those plays are important – extra-effort plays.”
Cheeks dug a little deeper into his bench this time out, using nine players – Will Bynum and Josh Harrellson in addition to bench mainstays Singler and Rodney Stuckey – before the first quarter was out. There was a sense of urgency about the Pistons, who knew the stakes. A loss to a team that’s gone 2-13 over its last 15 – and at home, where the Pistons had slipped to 7-15 – would have seriously damaged them not only in the standings but in the psyche, as well.
“To get a win tonight was definitely a good step in the right direction,” Drummond said. “It put us in a better mood because we’ve been down about all the losing. We’ve been staying positive and it showed tonight that we’re going to come to fight.”
“We just had to get a win,” Cheeks said. “I kept telling our guys we were close. We had a few games we should’ve won and we were close in those games, but we just had to finish the games. Tonight, we pretty much played a full game. It didn’t matter who we played, we just had to try to get a win.”
“We don’t want to keep losing ballgames,” Singler said. “We put forth a good effort and we got a good result. We’re not going to win all the games that we put a good effort forth, but we’re going to win the majority of them.”
It’ll help if they have Andre Drummond, on two healthy legs, doing what he did to Orlando. For one brief but very unpleasant moment, Cheeks thought he might have to go without his 20-year-old wunderkind.
“He was grabbing his leg and his shoe was off,” Cheeks said. “That was a little nerve-wracking, yeah.”
So, good karma coming? The Pistons will keep their fingers crossed.