Q+A: Andre Drummond talks surging Pistons


Andre Drummond spent a few minutes with us talking about his surging Pistons, who had won nine of their last 10 before a Wednesday night loss in New Orleans, and after an extremely rough start to the season, find themselves just two games out of the playoffs in the East.

We also talked about Detroit’s postseason chances, what it’s like to play under Stan Van Gundy, and a little bit of sneakers, as well. Here’s the transcript from our discussion.

Q: Pretty good time to talk right now considering how well you’ve been doing recently. You’ve won nine out of 10 before Wednesday night in New Orleans, what’s been the biggest difference for you guys that’s helped to turn things around?

A: I think for us we’ve just really done a good job of playing as a team and not getting down when we start losing games, and really folding. We’ve done a good job of fighting all the way through the game, and most of the time, we came out with a win.

Q: Have you guys made any changes on offense or defense, or has it just been a combination of things that have helped you guys get out to this win streak?

A: I think it’s really been a combination of things, and it starts of with us, our effort and energy on both ends of the floor.

Q: Has your role on the team specifically changed during this little winning stretch that’s going on right now?

A: Not really. I’ve been getting the ball a lot more in the post … but other than that, nothing’s really changed. I think we’ve just simplified everybody’s role on the team.

Q: The wins you’ve gotten during this stretch, some of them have come against some pretty darn good teams. You guys beat Dallas and San Antonio on a road back-to-back, got a victory at Toronto, and got pretty close against the Hawks. So you’re not just beating bad teams, but you’re playing right now at a level high enough to sort of hang with everybody — even some of the league’s best teams. How has that part of it come together so quickly for you guys?

A: Like I said, it’s really the idea of not folding through the games like we’ve done earlier in the season. Like when we would get down, we’d [let it] snowball and it would get bigger and bigger. I think we’ve done a good job of really just continuing to fight throughout the game, and we’ve come up with great wins against some really solid teams.

Q: How crazy is it that even after such a tough start, you guys find yourselves now just two games out of the playoffs?

A: To even think about that, it’s crazy to hear, where we’re coming from. But we’re not going to get too excited, we’re not going to get too big-headed. We’re going to continue to play hard, and really work toward becoming a better team. If the playoffs happen for us, you know, we’re going to be really excited for that.

Q: Was the fact that you guys play in the Eastern Conference — you know, the teams in those bottom couple of playoff spots are actually below .500. Was that a motivating factor at all for you guys, even with the slow start to the season to say hey, if we keep working, if we can find a way to turn this around, we’ve still got a shot at the postseason here?

A: We want to make sure we’re really focusing on us, and not really worry about everybody else. We’re not going to look at something that isn’t here yet. We’re going to worry about the games we have in front of us now, and try to win all those games. And the playoffs will come for us.

Q: What’s it been like to play for Stan Van Gundy this season?

A: Stan’s been great. Everybody knows he’s a firecracker, he yells and screams. But he’s a very insightful man, and he’s done a good job with us in really getting us to play.

Q: I’m not sure how much you guys pay attention to this stuff, but he had that late-game instruction for you guys, that game in San Antonio where he told you to “form a f—king wall” defensively, and the thing went viral a little bit. Were you guys as players aware of it, and did you find that funny at all?

A: Yeah, we found it funny. We found out about it like a day or two later. Everybody was talking about it, and we were like … we didn’t find it that funny at the time, because it was like, he was serious. But everybody’s making t-shirts and stuff about it now, so it was funny to see.

Q: I have a feeling that if we got mics in a Stan Van Gundy huddle all the time, there’d be a lot more t-shirts available.

A: Uh, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Q: Alright, so tell me about some of the work you’re doing with the American Express Home Court Advantage program.

A: To be a part of the American Express Home Court Advantage has been very fun for me, because everybody knows that I’m very big into social media, and really expressing myself through all my social pages. When the idea of working with them was presented, I didn’t hesitate twice. I was excited to really share my likes and interests with my followers, and especially doing it with small businesses like the bowling alley was excellent. So I was really excited to speak about that, and give my fans an inside look at what I enjoy doing.

Q: Yeah, I saw that video, looks like you’re getting the bowling thing down. How long have you been at that as a hobby?

A: I’ve been bowling for about five or six years now, so I’ve been getting better year by year, taking different tips from different people and just putting them into my game. And I’ve been getting a lot better.

Q: What’s your career high score?

A: 215

Q: Nice! That’s not bad at all. It looked like in that video I saw you wearing some powder blue Jordan 3 retros. How big into the whole sneaker thing are you?

A: Well, I recently just signed with Jordan Brand too, so, you know, that was big for me because I’m a Jordan freak. I have every different Jordan from top to bottom in like, every different color. To be part of that now, it’s definitely great to be part of the brand.

Q: How big is your collection?

A: Let’s just say I have a sneaker bedroom.

Q: We’ll just leave it at that?

A: Imagine a master bedroom full of shoes, so just think about that.

Q: Nice. And what’re your favorites, the ones you’ve been wearing on court the most this season?

A: Right now I’m wearing a Team Jordan [this one, most recently]. But if I could, I’d wear Jordan 12s.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.