PHOENIX – The last player off the practice court at US Airways Arena Thursday afternoon was Andre Drummond – chased off, at that. “Save your energy,” Pistons video coordinator Ryan Winters kidded with Drummond as he rounded up the last few loose balls not already bagged up to prevent having to rebound any more Drummond shots while his teammates were filing out toward the team bus.
A few minutes earlier, at the other end of the court, Rasheed Wallace turned his back and Drummond pounced, dribbling from the right wing and tomahawking a vicious dunk with his right hand while he used his left to catapult himself over Wallace’s shoulder.
The Pistons still call him “questionable” for tonight’s game with Phoenix, pending the morning shootaround, but they might have to use a horse tranquilizer on him if they’re going to tell him he can’t play.
“The guy likes to play,” John Loyer said. “When you do this for a living and you play every single day of our life, when you have a little setback and miss basically the whole Indiana game and miss (Wednesday’s) game when you know in a lot of ways you could have helped us … the guy wants to play. The guy loves basketball, loves his team and just can’t wait to get out and play and that showed today in our practice.”
It wasn’t a full-contact, five-on-five practice with the Pistons in the midst of a three-games-in-four-nights stretch, thus the degree of caution in not proclaiming Drummond full go for Friday. Drummond politely declined to talk, saying he’d give a full update after Friday’s shootaround.
But as he took part with Wallace and rookie Tony Mitchell in YouTube dunk attempts – bouncing the ball high off the side wall, catching it one-handed off the bounce as it hit the court and taking it in one motion to the rim – the sight of him motionless on the court after colliding with Indiana’s Roy Hibbert less than a week ago seemed a long way in his rear-view mirror.
“Andre went through our workout today and moved very, very well,” Loyer said. “We’ll see how he does in shootaround and go from there. He was very fluid in his movement. He looked like Andre to me.”
If Drummond is given clearance to play, Loyer said he would use him as he normally would.
“The only way we’d use Andre is if he’s 100 percent ready to go,” Loyer said. “There’s too much at stake in the organization to not do that. If he’s cleared, we’ll play him like we normally do.”