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Stan Van Gundy breaks down the Pistons victory over the Pacers.
Rod Beard, The Detroit News

Detroit — Andre Drummond raised the query earlier than the season began, laughing as he talked in regards to the elephant — or perhaps you’d name it a giraffe — within the Pistons’ locker room.

“Who’s going to stop a 7-foot-4 dude that has soft hands like that?” Drummond stated. “I mean, what do you do with that?”

That’s nonetheless one thing his coach Stan Van Gundy hasn’t fairly found out, discovering a solution to match Boban Marjanovic into his rotation. Or even right into a recreation, for that matter. But Wednesday evening in opposition to the Indiana Pacers — in a recreation wherein the Pistons bench once more performed a sizeable position in a 114-97 victory — the NBA’s tallest participant lastly received an prolonged stretch of enjoying time.

And whereas the outcomes have been combined, the reactions have been what we’ve come to anticipate.

When Marjanovic put again a Tobias Harris miss with just below a minute left within the first half Wednesday, grabbing an offensive rebound and laying it in left-handed over a helpless Al Jefferson, the Pistons bench erupted. Marjanovic has a 9-foot-7 standing attain, and he barely left the bottom on the play. But Avery Bradley jumped straight out of his seat to rejoice, turning to high-five Ish Smith, who’d carried out the identical, whereas Anthony Tolliver roared and flexed his approval and rookie Luke Kennard laughed like a young person.

Finally, it was “Boban Time,” and everybody — gamers and followers alike — was loving it.

“That’s part of a winning culture, guys knowing when their time is and being ready for it when their name is called,” stated Tobias Harris, who led the Pistons in scoring once more, ending with a game-high 23 factors and eight rebounds. “Boban gave us a huge lift tonight, and it was good to see him out there helping us out.”

The Pistons have been enjoying shorthanded, with each Stanley Johnson (hip flexor) and Jon Leuer (ankle) out of the lineup. Van Gundy inserted Reggie Bullock into the beginning 5, and when Avery Bradley picked up two fast fouls, rookie Luke Kennard — recent off a 26-point outing Sunday with Grand Rapids within the Gatorade League — was the primary man off the bench.

But then Drummond picked up his second foul and had to sit down as nicely. His backup, Eric Moreland, had hassle with Al Jefferson, the Pacers’ 6-foot-10, 280-pound veteran heart who received on a roll, scoring seven factors on three consecutive possessions in lower than a minute.

Enter Boban

That introduced Marjanovic off the bench and out of his warm-ups. It additionally introduced a noticeable cheer from the Little Caesars Arena crowd because the fan favourite checked in for simply the second time within the common season — and the primary time at dwelling.

This isn’t simple, leaping into the fray like that. Marjanovic hadn’t performed in almost three weeks, and even then — within the Oct. 21 win over the Knicks in New York — he’d solely performed four minutes.

“You can spend three hours every day on the court (in practice),” he stated, “but it’s not the same.”

Last SlideSubsequent Slide

Still, he knew this evening may be his likelihood, with Leuer in avenue garments and the Pacers on the town for the second evening of a back-to-back. Jefferson’s one of many uncommon matchups wherein Van Gundy feels snug placing Marjanovic — and his defensive mobility points — on the ground. The Serbian big performed 21 minutes in opposition to the Pacers within the preseason — a lot of it in opposition to Jefferson — and completed that recreation with 14 factors and 5 rebounds.

Last season, Marjanovic was caught behind Aron Baynes and performed sparingly. But the uncommon glimpses have been tantalizing. He had 15 factors and 19 rebounds in 22 minutes in a recreation in opposition to Charlotte whereas Baynes was injured. And when Van Gundy gave him some run on the finish of the season with the Pistons out of competition, Marjanovic averaged 15.eight factors and 11.three rebounds over 4 video games.

That’s a part of the rationale his coach calls Marjanovic “a wild card” who may be “one of the most indefensible offensive forces in the game.” And he confirmed flashes of it once more on this one, scoring 9 factors and grabbing 4 rebounds to go together with a blocked shot in 5 1/2 minutes within the second quarter because the Pistons turned an eight-point deficit right into a 59-52 halftime lead they’d by no means relinquish.

“We went with Eric first because he’d played two really good games, but Al’s just a really, really tough matchup,” Van Gundy stated. “I mean, Boban had trouble defending him, too. But Boban can go back down at the other end and get some things done. And I thought he gave us a good lift.”

Tallest man standing

That’s been a constant theme all through the primary month of this NBA season for the Pistons, who personal the second-best document within the Eastern Conference and a three-game lead over Cleveland atop the Central Division. Drummond’s assertive and energetic effort — he completed with a season-high 21 rebounds Wednesday — and a way more fluid offense have performed a giant half in Detroit’s fast begin.

But so has the crew’s spectacular depth, and with Marjanovic getting his likelihood Wednesday, Van Gundy’s glad to report he has made good on one promise so far this season.

“It’s funny, because we had talked today about that, about everybody getting an opportunity,” he stated. “And we’re solely 11 video games in and actually all 14 guys have made vital contributions at one level or one other.

“We stated that to them going into (the season), and, you recognize, gamers hear it on a regular basis: ‘Everybody’s gonna get their alternative’ and ‘You’ve received to remain prepared on a regular basis.’ But we’re solely 11 video games in and it has come true. I feel they know, there’s some guys which might be gonna be on the market each evening and a few that received’t be. But all people is gonna be necessary to us because the 12 months goes on.”

Wednesday evening, it was the final man standing — the tallest one, too — and he delivered.

“And he came out and did what a professional is supposed to do,” Drummond stated. “He played the game the right way, and great things came his way.”

john.niyo@detroitnews.com

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