Andre Drummond has become a lightning rod for the fanbase. Some fans recognize his contributions as the NBA’s best rebounder and his growing consistency at the defensive end. Other fans look at the bad decisions, poor shooting percentage and a high price tag, and would love for the Pistons to trade the 25-year-old center for a rack of basketballs. But let’s be clear. With the current roster, the Pistons are better with Drummond than without. And it showed Friday night when the Pistons escaped with a 98-93 victory over the Miami Heat, after Drummond left the game early with a nose injury at Little Caesars Arena. Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Drummond appeared to be OK, but didn’t reveal his status for Saturday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “He doesn’t look any different, but he’s going to be reevaluated in the morning, but he’s in the locker room enjoying it with his teammates,” Casey said. The Pistons started fast and were leading 20-13 when Drummond took an elbow to the face from Heat forward James Johnson. Drummond, who had nose surgery during the 2017 offseason , crumpled to the floor with a bloody nose. He remained on the floor for several minutes before being escorted to the bench. He was examined there before heading to the locker room. He never returned. The Pistons took a 53-39 lead at halftime, but the Heat surged with a 30-12 third quarter. Hassan Whiteside got the Heat going with several offensive rebounds, scoring on putbacks. Drummond also helps the offense with his screening. Blake Griffin scored easily after pick-and-rolls with Drummond in the first quarter. The play is not the same threat with Zaza Pachulia — although Griffin narrowly missed a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. But Pachulia helped the Pistons come back from a five-point deficit. His tip-in with 26.7 seconds left gave the Pistons a 94-91 lead. The Pistons (20-24) were also able to overcome the loss of Ish Smith, who exited after a brief stint in the first quarter. He recently missed 19 games with a torn right adductor and he felt tightness in the area. He was held out as a precaution and is listed as day-to-day. Luke Kennard and Reggie Bullock have also missed time this season with injuries. Kennard helped with 22 points on Friday, and Bullock scored 19. “Sometimes that’s the silver lining when you have injuries early,” Griffin said. “We’re battle-tested in that area. People have to step up and play different roles, different positions all season. “We have experience in that and I think it showed tonight.” Follow Vince Ellis on Twitter @vincent_ellis56.