In the battle of Robin Lopez's neck hair versus Andre Drummond's shoulder hair it was unclear who would be the victor. Last night, those two beasts certainly tangled and it was undoubtedly Lopez claiming the title for best center of the evening. Drummond, for all his monstrous athleticism, is really a simple straight line attacker who excels at going over the top of everyone and relies on being massive and brutal. He also needs the creativity of others to suck defenses away from him. Lopez is a solid all around player but can be beaten by tricky post players who can pull him 15 or more feet away. In this matchup, Lopez was able to beat Drummond to his spots while bumping ball handlers a step or two off their route and recovering in time to spill Detroit's buckets. Let's rubberneck at the wreckage.
Robin continually checked Andre as soon as he got near the paint and did his best to just edge him away as much as possible. This simple, unrelenting activity helped siphon Drummond's powers, limiting him to a meek 13 points on 15 shots to go along with nine rebounds. It was only the fifth time this season he failed to register a double-double. Drummond still has a rather monstrous gravitational pull (and Detroit won the battle of the boards) but his poor night cut off the whole team. No field goal attempts in the fourth quarter was the cherry on top as Lopez used up his fouls to force the worst free throw shooter in the game to beat them at the charity stripe.
Notice on Drummond's first post up, Lopez pushes him well off the block and then dares him to be creative. A cool little nowhere dribble gets sent to the baseline and Lopez reaches over the top of the cornered mammoth to swat the ball away. Face up all you want, but you're too far away, Andre. Sucks to be you.
Next scenario, we have Lopez completely disinterested in a high screen and roll with Drummond. He backs way off and zeroes in on Reggie Jackson. With only one real way to go, Lopez allows Jackson to speed past while he gathers to block the absolute crap out of it. Drummond, ever the trailer load, bumrushes to clean up the mess, but is swarmed by four Knicks and flits up a pushy hook shot, which Lopez subsequently controls.
All told, a fantastic team win, but Lopez was the fulcrum by which the Knicks were able to see-saw their way to victory. Hopefully it can help propel the Knicks to a few more fully engaged efforts like what we saw last night!