AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Pistons starting center Andre Drummond was keeping company with the likes of Dennis Rodman and Bob Lanier on Sunday afternoon.
Drummond led Detroit to a 115-100 win over the Sixers at the Palace in Auburn Hills, recording career highs in points and rebounds with 31 and 19, respectively (see Instant Replay).
Rodman was the last Piston to put up such numbers for the franchise, with 34 points and 23 rebounds in 1991. Lanier was the last Piston to have 31 and 19 against the Sixers back in February 1979.
“He is a skilled player and a good player,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “His size gets the better of us. We need to make it a group effort. We needed to come down better with our guards and help giving up 40 or 50 pounds -- whatever the difference is -- and we didn’t do that and he had a hell of a game.”
“I have seen him a few times,” Evan Turner said, referring to Drummond. “I haven’t seen him play like that. He played great. Obviously him being that close to the rim, he is one of the few bigs that uses his body still in the league. He is tough to guard, and when you get on a roll obviously, you are doing the job.”
The game got interesting in the third quarter when the Sixers, who trailed 70-46 at halftime, decided to test Drummond’s free throw shooting skills by repeatedly fouling him as soon as the Pistons crossed half-court.
Drummond had made just 10 of 35 free throw attempts this season coming into Sunday's game. He was 0 for 1 in the first half, and then came the Hack-a-Drummond.
In the third quarter, Drummond went 3 for 12 at the foul line.
“It is one of those ugly parts of the game. You don’t really like doing it to be honest with you, but it is a rule and it helped our team,” Brown said of his decision to intentionally foul Drummond. “He, this year, has not been a good free throw shooter, so we had to do what we had to do. I think he ended up 7 for 18, and I think it helped us get back in the game. You are at a stage where you will try anything you can to put your team in a position to win and it allowed us to take a 24-point deficit and bang it back to 10.”
It was a 10-point game with 24 seconds to play in the third quarter, but by the 8:25 mark of the fourth, Detroit had pushed its lead back to 20.
The Sixers' defensive struggles were on full display in the first half. They allowed 40 in the first quarter and 70 by the break. Both are season highs and both are indiciative of what's an ongoing problem.
“We are on mission of trying to get that taken care of and solved,” said Turner, who scored 20 points.
“Whether it is trying to get back on defense, or trying to box people out, or making sure a below average free throw shooter doesn’t get and-ones -- all those things,” Brown said, knowing his team had been outrebounded by 16. “It is a cumulative effort that starts with me, and it is a team thing that we are going to have to find a way to get through. It is obviously our No. 1 problem. Some of it is by physical design. Some of it is structural.”
Brown made a move before the game in an effort to bolster the defense from the opening tip; he placed Hollis Thompson in the starting lineup in place of James Anderson (see story).
“I tried to sell Hollis on a defensive role,” Brown said. “All five of those guys that start rightfully demand some shots and demand the ball. You try to get something that doesn’t require plays called for them and be a defensive-type of player ... like Bruce Bowen was. That is what we tried to sell and cultivate with Hollis.”
Brown said he was unsure if he would continue starting Thompson and also emphasized that Anderson, while he has missed shots of late, has done nothing wrong.
“When people don’t start everyone seems to wonder. When people don’t end games, I mean we didn’t start Manu Ginobili for years, but when you start not ending games, then you should be concerned,” Brown stressed. “That was the reasoning behind James [not starting].”
Thompson finished with six points and six rebounds. Anderson scored 11 points. Both players shot 50 percent from the floor.