Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and forward Marcus Morris
paced five starters in double figures as Detroit outgunned the
Houston Rockets 123-114 on Wednesday night at Toyota Center.
Drummond missed 23 of 36 free-throw attempts, surpassing the mark of
22 misses set by 76ers center Wilt Chamberlain on Dec. 1, 1967. Yet
despite his wayward shooting at the charity stripe, hatched from an
odd strategy initiated by Houston interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff
opening the third quarter, Detroit (23-19) had ample scoring in
reserve, with Caldwell-Pope and Morris recording 22 points each to
lead the offense.
"We fight. We're a fighting team," said Drummond, a 38.6 percent
career shooter from the line who totaled 17 points and 11 rebounds
in 23 minutes. "We know teams are going to come at us every which
way and we did a good job of coming out with a great team win."
Rockets guard James Harden produced a triple-double of 33 points, 17
rebounds and 14 assists, becoming the first player since Chamberlain
to post such a line since Chamberlain had 53 points, 32 rebounds and
14 assists for the 76ers against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 18,
But with center Dwight Howard sidelined by an ankle injury just 55
seconds into the first quarter, the Rockets (22-22) lost for the
third time in four games following a season-best five-game winning
"He dominates the paint," Harden said of Howard. "Everything he
brings to our team was missed."
Rockets reserve swingman Corey Brewer hit a 3-pointer with 11:11
left to play, cutting what was an 11-point deficit in the third
quarter to 85-84 before Detroit answered with another blitz of
The Pistons turned four free throws, two transition dunks and two
3-pointers into a 99-86 lead that paved the way for a season sweep
of the Rockets. Forward Ersan Ilyasova paired 18 points with six
rebounds while guard Reggie Jackson had 17 points and nine assists
The Rockets executed an unusual gambit to open the third, inserting
reserve forward K.J. McDaniels at the start of the half so that he
could foul Drummond intentionally until Drummond was forced to the
free-throw line. That strategy took all of nine seconds, and even
after McDaniels took his customary seat on the bench, Houston kept
Drummond missed 11 of 16 free throws before Pistons coach Stan Van
Gundy relented and replaced Drummond with Aron Baynes at the 9:22
mark. With a trio of 3s the Rockets pulled even at 60-60 as Drummond
misfired, and the Pistons didn't attempt their first shot of the
second half until Caldwell-Pope missed a 20-footer with 9:02 left.
[to top of second column]
"(NBA commissioner) Adam Silver and the league have decided that's
the way they want to play the game and that's what they want people
to watch," Van Gundy said of the intentional fouling. "As long as
the fans are OK with watching it then they're going to keep playing
"At some point the fans may get to the point and said, 'We're not
going to pay to watch this, we're going to flip channels.' They
haven't yet, and that's what Adam keeps saying. But when they do,
the league will have to make an adjustment."
Houston grabbed its first lead at 62-61 with 8:31 left in the third
but it was short-lived. With Drummond benched Detroit shot its way
back into command, turning a 9-0 run into a 74-68 lead on a
Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer with 3:46 left. The Rockets clawed to within
one point on a Harden trey seconds later but the Pistons kept firing
into the fourth, finishing 12 of 30 on 3s while shooting 47.5
percent (38 of 80) overall.
They momentum Houston built fouling Drummond was fleeting, which
served to underscore the grumbling that came from both locker rooms.
"Trying to win the game," Bickerstaff said of the strategy. "It
didn't work. That's it. That's all I have to say about that."
NOTES: With Rockets G Patrick Beverley sidelined by a left ankle
sprain, Ty Lawson made just his 12th start of the season and first
since Nov. 16. Until Beverley returns, Lawson will get another shot
to play alongside James Harden while logging significant playing
time. ... With the Pistons opening the second half of the season
Wednesday night, Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy noted that consistency
was all that stood between his team and continued development. The
Pistons defeated the Warriors and Cavaliers plus the Bulls, Heat and
Celtics multiple times in the first half while also losing on the
road to the Nets and Lakers. ... Rockets C Dwight Howard carried a
string of 10 consecutive games with a double-double into Wednesday,
including a 36-point, 26-rebound performance against the Clippers on
Monday. "He's back to who he is, who he's always been," interim
coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. Howard played just one minute on
Wednesday before leaving with an injury and did not score.
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.