Drummond misfires but Pistons beat Rockets

HOUSTON • Detroit Pistons centre Andre Drummond set an ignominious National Basketball Association record.

But in the aftermath, he elected to champion the macro view of an impressive road victory.

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 at the Toyota Centre.

Drummond missed 23 of 36 free-throw attempts, surpassing the mark of 22 misses set by Philadelphia 76ers centre 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, Detroit (23-19) had ample scoring in reserve. Caldwell-Pope and Morris recorded 22 points each to lead the offence.

"We're a fighting team," said Drummond, a 38.6 per cent career shooter from the line who totalled 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 in 1968 to post such a line.

But with centre 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.

Houston executed an unusual gambit to open the third quarter, inserting reserve forward K.J. McDaniels so he could foul Drummond intentionally until the latter was forced to the free-throw line. That strategy took nine seconds, and even after McDaniels took his customary seat on the bench, Houston kept fouling.

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 threes, the Rockets pulled even at 60-60 as Drummond misfired, and the Pistons did not attempt their first shot of the second half until Caldwell-Pope missed a 20-footer with 9:02 left.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Drummond misfires but Pistons beat Rockets'. Print Edition | Subscribe