Pistons center Andre Drummond snatched 19 rebounds in the first half of Friday night’s game at the United Center, appearing well on his way to topping Denver counterpart Timofey Mozgov’s NBA season-high 29 boards, set just the previous evening.
The second-year big man, just 20 years old and the league’s second-leading rebounder on the campaign, ended up grabbing just 26 caroms, tying the mark he set earlier in the season, which was at the time the league’s high-water mark. Still, Drummond’s outing, which also included 26 points in the Bulls’ eventual 106-98 comeback victory, was enough to raise some eyebrows.
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“I was concerned right from the start. Drummond was dominant right at the beginning of the game. But I thought we were real low-energy in the first half: badly out-rebounded, not making effort plays, not back in transition and that’s not us. We’re not a low-energy team. We’re usually—we have great energy. I thought we made a big switch, in terms of intensity and I thought in the fourth quarter, in particular, when our best was needed, we were very good,” said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team closed the rebounding gap in the second half, but was still beaten on the boards, a slight concern as of late.
“He’s a talented guy. He’s very athletic and as we do with every aspect of our defense, it’s five-man defense, every aspect. So whether it’s catch-and-shoot, pick-and-roll, defensive transition, rebounding. So, oftentimes we’re asking our bigs to go out and help. When they go out and help, a small has to go in there and put his body on him, and I thought we didn’t finish our defense as well as we should have. So we gave him points, we gave him second shots and he’s great at it. You have to give him credit. So it requires a lot of attention and effort, and we know how good he is. But as I said, the second half, we were very pleased.”
Bulls sixth man Taj Gibson marveled at the youngster’s evening, especially since it came against All-Star teammate Joakim Noah, who had 12 rebounds of his own, to go with 10 assists and three blocked shots.
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“He’s not even 21 yet. He’s just one of those guys that you see a bright future for him. he’s just really physical and I’m not used to seeing Joakim really get pushed around sometimes, but it happens. On a given night, you can’t let guys get confidence and he played with a lot of confidence tonight,” Gibson said. “We were angry the last couple games. We felt like our rebounding’s kind of been slipping, including myself. But games like that are going to happen. You’ve got to just keep pushing forward, move on to the next play, move on to the next quarter because anything can happen. The moment you put your head down and start thinking negative things, the negative’s going to happen. But we just stick to our guns, stay positive and the bright spot’s going to happen.”