The game against the Milwaukee Bucks got off to a rough start for Pistons center Andre Drummond. He picked up a foul before the ball was even tipped off. He picked up another one minutes later, and before you knew it, he was on the bench in early foul trouble again.
“He (Drummond) was really, really frustrated early in the game with the foul calls,” Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy. “I thought he was hanging his head a little bit, and when he came out in the first quarter, there was a lot of game left. So I told him just to keep playing, and he did a good job of doing that.”
Drummond returned to the game late in the second quarter, and looked like a totally different player. In fact, he didn’t pick up another foul the rest of the game, in the Pistons’ 105-96 win over the Bucks. Drummond finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks, as the Pistons improved to 6-3 in the young season.
“After I came out in that first quarter, it was a slow start for me,” Drummond said. “Obviously that first call kind of took me out of my game early. I’ve never seen that in my life before. But you just have to roll with the punches.”
“I wanted to come back and be mentally strong, be a professional, and play as hard as I can when I did get back on the floor. I wanted to get myself going in that second quarter leading up to halftime, so I could find a flow.”
Drummond found his rhythm at an unusual spot on the floor for him. From the free throw line, where he went 14-16. He was so good shooting free throws, that the crowd even gave him a standing ovation late in game. Well-deserved, if you know the history of Drummond’s free throw shooting woes.
“A night like tonight, that’s not a fluke,” Van Gundy said. “A career 35 percent free throw shooter, and you go 14-16, he just had a good night. He wasn’t banking them in off the backboard either. Those looked good. You saw them.”
Drummond is actually a 38.1 percent free throw shooter in his career, and while his historic shooting night surprised everyone else, he wasn’t shocked at all.
“That’s just a testament of all the work I put in over the summer, and over the years,” Drummond said. “I wasn’t even counting them (free throws), but in the fourth quarter I got back to the line and said, ‘I’ve been up here a lot.’ But it was a good feeling to see them go in.”
Van Gundy said he usually tries to get Drummond six free throw attempts a night. This night was unusual for him to have 16 attempts, and because he was making them, they wanted to keep going to the well.
“He was rolling hard, and putting more pressure on the basket,” said Van Gundy. “Watching the games out west, that was an are we needed to improve in, was to get him to the rim more. Obviously their (Bucks) idea was, “We’ll just let him catch the ball, then we’ll hammer him.’ I don’t think that’s strategy is going to work this year. I don’t.”