In a game that won't be forgotten any time soon, the Detroit Pistons outlasted the Chicago Bulls 147-144 in four overtimes. The last time the Piston organization was involved in a four overtime game? 1952.
No player had a larger role in the Piston win than Andre Drummond, finishing with 33 points, 21 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. As amazing as those numbers are, they're only half the story. With ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Drummond picked up his fifth foul (and a technical foul for good measure) and while the Pistons fought hard until that point, it seemed the Bulls were destined to pull away with the Piston big man in foul trouble.
Instead of folding and feeling sorry for himself --something any typical 22 year old might do-- Drummond demonstrated the maturity of a veteran and true team leader. He played a career high 55 minutes before finally fouling out midway through the fourth overtime. It takes a high level of basketball intelligence for a rim protector and the focal point of the defense to play that long in foul trouble. If he fouls out early early in the fourth, the Pistons have no chance at winning that game. Not only is he extremely important to the team but backup Aron Baynes was sidelined with back spasms. Drummond understood the situation and adjusted his game accordingly. Instead of chasing after every block or reaching to make a highlight steal, he wisely picked the correct time(s) to impose his will.
Drummond's final stats were great, but stats with no context are just numbers; in this case the continued on court growth of Andre Drummond was the story of the night.
The Pistons scored 20 points in the fourth overtime and Reggie Jackson scored 13 of them proving once again to be the official team closer. Jackson finished the game with 31 points and 13 assists, adding another bullet point to his already impressive Piston resume.
Jackson was off to a slow start after collecting two first quarter fouls but like Drummond, there was no sulking in sight. Thanks in large part to the play of Steve Blake, the Pistons were able to hang around in the first half without the services of their top play maker.
The longer the game went on, the stronger Jackson became. Unafraid of the moment, Jackson had chances to end or ice the game a handful of times throughout the overtime periods but couldn't quite finish the job. But like any real closer, Jackson kept clawing, scratching, fighting -- whatever it took -- to finally get the job done.
When Reggie decides he's getting to the basket, he's getting to the basket. From there, it becomes a matter of him finishing regardless of what the defense has to say about it. It's truly a remarkable skill and a focused, determined Reggie Jackson is a player I'm glad is on my side.
The one knock on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's game is that of shooting consistency. After a career night against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, KCP finished with 17 points on 7-18 shooting against the Bulls. It's a ho-hum percentage but lost in a box score is the timely shot making that KCP provided; the extra periods saw Caldwell-Pope hit huge threes in the second and fourth overtimes to tie and extend leads.
KCP's game by game goal shouldn't be some arbitrary shooting percentage. If he's shooting within the flow of the offense, it's a good shot. If it goes in of course, that's even better. Caldwell-Pope's effort can't be quantified and as cliche as it sounds, the intangibles are immeasurable. At the end of the fourth overtime and after logging 49 minutes, KCP looked like he could go a few more rounds. That's rare.
Jimmy Butler scored a career high 43 points for the Bulls, but I'm guessing he's going to feel it tomorrow. Dogged by a variety of Piston defenders, Butler really turned up his game with Drummond in foul trouble. Knowing there was no one to meet him at the rim, Butler aggressively drove and was rewarded with 16 free throw attempts. With a chance to tie the game at the end of the fourth overtime, Butler's three point attempt fell short.
We all know the injury history of Derrick Rose, but the former MVP is best when he's not trying to be the former MVP. Rose scored 34 (taking 34 shots) points but was most effective pulling up in the paint instead of forcing corkscrew layups. He played solid defense when he relied on angles and his teammates, but got burned when he didn't play with his brain.
In an 82-game season, a handful of games stand out each year. This one is going to be talked about for years to come. Four overtimes, on the road, and against Chicago. After recent heartbreaking losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers, it's great to see the Pistons earn this win.