Andre Drummond set the tone early on Monday night, as the Detroit Pistons beat the New York Knicks 96-85.
Within 30 seconds of the game’s opening-tip Knicks center Tyson Chandler had a fast-break dunk attempt without a Piston in sight, that is until Drummond entered the scene. In two monstrous strides from the three-point line, Drummond tracked down the Knicks’ big-man and swatted away Chandler’s dunk just before it met the rim.
The 20-year-old center played with that big-brother mentality throughout the entire game, it didn’t matter who had better position or who had boxed him out. Drummond was relentless in his efforts to show every member of the Knicks that he is bigger, stronger, and more athletic than anyone who was willing to challenge him.
Drummond had a limited offensive role in the first half as Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, and Rodney Stuckey were responsible for 28 of the Pistons’ 44 field-goal attempts. Dre’s only basket in the game’s first 24 minutes came on a put-back dunk following a missed layup by Stuckey. In spite of scoring just five points, Drummond managed to grab 13 rebounds and block three shots in the first half.
With his team trailing by five points entering the second half, Drummond proved he was too much to handle for the Knicks’ big-men as he played the entire third quarter without a break. He made four of his five field-goal attempts along with a three-point play, giving him a total of nine points in the frame. Drummond had already grabbed 18 rebounds on the night as the Pistons had a five-point lead at the end of the third.
The Pistons maintained their lead throughout the fourth quarter and handed the Knicks their seventh-consecutive loss while ending a four-game losing streak of their own. If it hadn’t occurred on the same night that LeBron James decided to drop 61 points, Drummond’s performance would had been the most impressive in the NBA on Monday night.
In addition to his 17 points, Drummond grabbed a career-high 26 rebounds, and blocked three shots. He made six of his nine field-goal attempts and went 5-of-7 from the line. With 44 double-doubles on the season, Drummond now has 14 more than any other player in the Eastern Conference.
Although he had a stellar performance, Drummond doesn’t deserve the entire credit for Monday night’s victory. Detroit was outscored 28-20 in the first quarter but was able to play well-enough on the defensive end to limit the Knicks’ scoring attack to just 57 points in the final three quarters.
Stuckey and Will Bynum were the only real contributors off the bench, each scoring 16 points. Bynum scored all of his 16 in the final frame as the guard-tandem combined for 24-fourth quarter points.
With 22 games left on the schedule, the Pistons (24-36) trail the eight-place Atlanta Hawks (26-32) and seventh-place Charlotte Bobcats (27-33) by three games in the standings.
Detroit would have to finish off the season with a 17-5 record in order to end the season with a 41-41. A .500-record would give them a chance to avoid the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. In order for that to happen, however, Detroit would need to find a Western Conference team that would be willing to completely swap rosters.
It has come to that point in the season where everything seems gloomy; the team’s general manager is on the hot-seat, their playoff chances don’t have a bright outlook, and even if Detroit receives a playoff berth, a first-round elimination is inevitable.
With that being said, if the Pistons can come together down the stretch and make the playoffs, it would have to be considered somewhat of an accomplishment. Largely because the team was assembled in such a disastrous way, that it was destined to fail.
Unfortunately, looking at the silver-lining only does good for so long.