Andre Drummond is not a good free throw shooter. It likely has less to do with form than it does with his mental state when taking the free throws. The Houston Rockets are one of the teams that know this and are willing to employ Hack-a-Dre. On Wednesday night, they took it to another level.
Down by nine to start the second half, the Rockets came out with the strict intention to get Drummond to the free throw line and get free possessions out of it until Stan Van Gundy was forced to remove Drummond from the game. Rather than trying to cut into the Pistons lead first, the Rockets first play of the third quarter was a foul by K.J. McDaniels. And again. And again three more times. A simple grab of Drummond's wrist. As such, the Rockets put the Pistons into the bonus nine seconds into the third quarter.
Van Gundy did all he could to let Drummond work it out himself as well as let the Rockets get themselves into foul trouble. While McDaniels was expendable, the seven fouls that were committed on Drummond in the next 2:28 seconds were by key players. Three were by Corey Brewer and two apiece by Ty Lawson and Trevor Ariza. Drummond shot 5-16 from the line in the quarter.
And maybe that is where Van Gundy and the Pistons missed an opportunity to exploit further. Yes, the Rockets were catching up and close to taking the lead, but at some point they would have had to stop hacking Drummond or risk putting lesser players on the floor to foul Drummond. Also, it could have sent a very strong message to Drummond. You need to hit your free throws.
However, it is hard to say that the Pistons missed an opportunity when they won the game by nine points. The Pistons would shoot 59 free throws in the game, 36 by Drummond. Drummond would shoot 13-for-36 from the free throw line. The rest of the team: 22-23. As a matter of fact, it was from the free throw line that the Pistons won the game. The Rockets would shoot 16-for-18 from the free throw line, James harden 12-for-12 alone. The Pistons outscored the Rockets by 19 from the free throw line. As a matter of fact, without Hack-a-Dre, the Pistons could have lost this game.
The 59 free throws are the most the Pistons have attempted since November 21, 1987 when they attempted 60. For perspective, Baynes was going to turn one 18 days later, Meeks, Ilyasova and Tolliver were probably still in diapers, and nine other Pistons on the current roster had not been conceived let alone born yet. I was three.
Drummond's 36 free throw attempts are not an NBA record, that belongs to Dwight Howard at 39. It is a Pistons record though, which was previously 24 by George Yardley and Walter Dukes. How many of you know those names? Though he didn't set an NBA record for free throw attempts, Drummond did set an NBA record for free throws missed.
Andre Drummond's 23 missed free throws is a new NBA record, previously held by Wilt Chamberlain and DeAndre Jordan.— David Mayo (@David_Mayo) January 21, 2016
The league should take notice. You can try to take the Pistons star center out of the game, but we're still likely to beat you...
@Vincent_Ellis56 for what it's worth, Houston and Boston big fans of hacking dre...Pistons 4-1 in those games— Thomas Ognisanti (@TOgnisanti) January 21, 2016