Andre Drummond fought foul trouble, the tired legs that come with a back-to-back, and some early free-throw trouble to deliver a 112-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors in front of a raucous Little Caesars Arena crowd that featured plenty (too many) Raps fans.
The win puts the Pistons into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, brings them back to .500 and sees the team playing the best ball of their season.
Even missing its star in Kawhi Leonard, the game had an intense playoff atmosphere with both sides playing quality ball with plenty of contributors.
But nobody came up bigger than Drummond — when he was able to actually see the floor. Drummond committed some stupid fouls early. After a silly foul in the first minute of second half, Drummond took a seat on the bench with four fouls.
Thon Maker quickly amasssed five of his own and Zaza Pachulia got himself a double technical after getting mauled down low and not getting a call. Suddenly, the Pistons were without much of a big man rotation and Drummond had zero margin for error.
Drummond aced the test, finishing the night +27 on a night when his fellow starters ranged from a -5 to a +1. Dre finished with 15 points, 17 rebounds, two steals and a block.
With the Pistons struggling mightily in overtime to generate offense and a four-point deficit, Drummond was able to hit a tough floater in the paint with the clock running out to make it a one-possession game.
Later, with a 3-point deficit Pascal Siakam skied for a dunk down the lane but Drummond was able to contest the shot and force Siakam to lose the ball, which careened off the backboard and gave the Pistons a running opportunity.
On the other end, Reggie Jackson was able to hit a 3-pointer from the corner with a hand in his face to tie the game at 107. With 46.1 left, Jackson found a rolling Drummond going to the rim who was quickly fouled.
Drummond was able to hit both of his free-throws to provide the go-ahead points the Pistons needed. Again, Drummond was able to play solid, straight-up defense against Marc Gasol on the other end to challenge his shots without fouling. The Raps weren’t able to convert and Detroit sneaked away with the win.
Speaking of Jackson, he was able to continue his hot play, even while struggling with some decision making in the fourth quarter. Jackson finished with 19 points and four assists.
Griffin led the Pistons with 27 points but struggled with the physical play of Toronto and got battered and bruised. He even left with a few seconds left in the first half to go to the training room.
With Griffin struggling and no Drummond, the Pistons let early leads slip away and even found themselves with a double-digit deficit in the third. That’s when Luke Kennard and Ish Smith were able to step up and perform.
Kennard hit 5-of-9 3s and made smart decisions on and off the ball, finishing with 19 points. Smith had nine points and eight assists and provided energy and got a stagnant Detroit offense moving. Dwane Casey even dusted off Glenn Robinson III and got five solid minutes from him in the fourth. Robinson had four points and was a +7.
The Raptors were led by Kyle Lowry with 35 points and exploded in the second half hitting deep 3s no matter how good the defense was. Siakam scored 21 and Gasol and OG Anunoby had 13 points apiece.
The Pistons, winners of 9-of-11, get a couple days off to rest up before suiting up again against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday followed by two games against the Bulls, the Nets, the Heat and the Lakers.