The Indiana Pacers had no answer from the opening tip when it came to the Detroit Pistons living on the offensive glass, and it was perhaps the single biggest contribution towards Indiana losing their first home game of the season in a 101-96 game on a night of things contributing towards an Indiana loss. The Pistons had 20 offensive rebounds in the game, leading to 22 Detroit points. The Pacers had 14 second chance points of their own, but the eight point disadvantage was just enough to keep the Pacers from ever seeing the lead in tonight's game.
They fell behind quickly, and tied the game four times in the first half, but each and every time, Detroit responded with a basket on the very next possession to keep Indiana at bay. None was more backbreaking than the Pistons' 7-0 run to close the first half, finished up by a Jonas Jerebko three pointer to close. The Pacers not only lost on the glass, but points at the end of quarters as well, with Detroit winning that battle 6-0 in the first and second quarter. Every point mattered tonight, and the Pacers weren't able to string together the stops, the defensive rebounds, or the buckets to turn the game in their favor. The Pistons played really well, and part of that is on Indiana for letting it happen.
The Pacers were bowled over by a big night from Josh Smith, who had 30 points on 13-29 shooting, with Brandon Jennings scoring 18 on 4-13. For as understandably maligned this duo can be, these are the nights the Pistons were hoping for from them when they were picked up in the offseason. Even despite woeful shooting numbers, their 25 missed field goals were eventually funneled into success. The Pistons grabbed 11 offensive rebounds for nine points on Smith and Jennings misses.
Lance Stephenson was on a very short list of Pacers worth talking about; leading the way for the blue and gold with an energetic 23 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Good things happened when Stephenson got the ball, which at stretches where Paul George and Roy Hibbert tried to jump start their own shooting woes, took away from Stephenson's opportunities to help his team. George had another awful shooting night of 4-14, making just one shot outside of the paint. He did find his way to the line for eight free throws as part of his 17 point night, but it wasn't enough to help his team out offensively.
Hibbert as well was just 2-12 from the floor against Detroit's front line. Luis Scola was a big spark for the Pacers, especially in the fourth quarter. Scola scored 10 straight Indiana points as part of his 18 on 8-11 shooting, but Indiana's defense did Scola no favors in that stretch. David West was solid as well, but some key misses from him late in the game weren't enough to help the team stay alive in the win column.
Basically, it was just bad. For a five point game, there were so many chances for the Pacers to find a point or stop a point to get back in the game. The Pacers had just eight turnovers, but every one seemed to be a bad pass or some kind of poorly time mistake. And in addition to the -8 in second chance points or the -6 in end of quarter points, the Pacers missed seven free throws. They were -15 on the boards, an eyesore of a stat for a team with plenty of capable rebounders.
When you add in Smith running down a West layup and blocking it with 48 seconds and Indiana down just four, it became painfully obvious just how important every point was tonight. As good as the Pacers are, they're a much better team when they're playing in the low 90's. They can't win consistently when opponents score more than 100, and they're still winless this year when opponents score 101+ points, dropping to 0-4 with tonight's loss. In other words, the Pacers are 20-0 when they allow 100 or less.
That streak remains, but two were broken tonight: Indiana's home winning streak halts at 11 and they lose their first game of the year that wasn't played on the second night of a back-to-back. This loss means the Pacers will relinquish the league's best record for the first time this season as well. But that's part of the NBA season and for the Pacers, playing like that is going to pile into a lot of losses. Detroit's a talented and capable team, and they allowed Detroit to showcase their best ball tonight, and have now won four of their last five road games.
So for the second time in two weeks, the Indiana Pacers will enter a matchup against the Miami Heat coming off of a loss. This time they'll tip off in Miami, with the ESPN affair tipping at 7:00 PM Eastern on Wednesday. The Heat won tonight, trimming Indiana's lead in the East to two games. With revenge on the mind, Wednesday's game will need a different mindset than the Pacers have had the last two games, else they'll come up on the wrong side of a 25-point affair.