Given the general reception by the Indiana Pacers on the second night of back-to-back (not to mention on the road), the end result of tonight's win against the Detroit Pistons had to be liberating. The Pacers dug deep to complete a 25-point comeback, wrapping up a 112-104 overtime victory thanks to a team effort full of the kind of urgency the Pacers haven't shown in quite some time.
Indiana appeared to fast track themselves to a difficult game with poor shooting in the first quarter, but did well to keep the game close, trailing 19-16, but missed their next four attempts as Detroit opened the game up, scoring six straight to push the lead to nine, taking that nine point lead into the second quarter up 29-20. Indiana's poor interior defense, coupled with Detroit hitting a hot streak of 10-11 shooting allowed the Pistons to light up the scoreboard, going up 16 with 8:43 remaining in the half.
Besides an Evan Turner layup, Indiana's offense in the second quarter was all on Andrew Bynum, who had nine points in the quarter, but with no help and Detroit continuing to push, the Pistons led the Pacers 56-31 with 3:24 left in the second quarter. Indiana responded with five points, but a Charlie Villanueva three pointer capped a 60-point first half for the Pistons, putting up them up 24. Indiana closed the half strong, with a Paul George jumper bringing the deficit to 19.
Despite their struggles, Indiana opened up the third quarter on a tear with George having his hand in the first eight points of the third quarter, scoring five and assisting on a Lance Stephenson to cap a 13-0 run dating back to the second quarter as the Pacers cut the game to 60-49 not even two minutes into the third quarter. The Pacers had trouble closing the gap from there, falling behind 16 and then later 15 after Brandon Jennings drilled a timely three on a broken play.
Indiana had another quick response stopped cold by a Detroit three pointer as Kyle Singler pushed the lead back to 14 at 75-61 with 2:57 left in the third. Rasual Butler stepped in to respond with in kind, kickstarting a 12-4 Pacers run to close the quarter, with George hitting a pair of big shots as Indiana trailed 79-73 at the end of the third quarter, outscoring Detroit 32-19 in the quarter.
Turner and Bynum continued to lift the bench in the fourth quarter, trimming the lead to two multiple times before Luis Scola's only jumper of the night tied the game at 83-83 with 7:47 left in the game. Josh Smith responded with two points, but Turner came back with a big three point play to give Indiana the 86-85 lead. Greg Monroe and Singler were there to put Detroit back up 89-86 at the 5:48 mark.
David West assisted on two big shots by George and Turner, the latter a corner three by Turner to give Indiana the two point lead before Josh Smith responded yet again with a three pointer to give Detroit the 92-91 advantage. Monroe scored the next three as Indiana failed to get crucial stops as the game wound down the final minute. Roy Hibbert hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 98-98 and Hibbert helped the Indiana defense stand for what felt like the first time all night, blocking Monroe and hitting a jumper to give Indiana a 100-98 advantage.
Smith scored on the ensuing possession to send the game into overtime, where the Pacers clamped down defensively, holding Detroit to 1-8 in the extra five minutes as David West scored six huge points to help Indiana wrap up the 112-104 OT victory. The Pacers, who were killed in transition and in the paint in the first half, with Detroit shooting upwards of 60%, listened to Dan Burke for once and forced Detroit out of the paint, with their shooting percentage plummeting throughout the second half.
The Pistons would finish up the night shooting just 40.7% after shooting 55% in the first half. The Pacers were outscored 10-0 in fast break points in the first half, but turned that around in the second half, outscoring Detroit 13-5. The Pacers also found their way back into the game thanks to a huge rebounding advantage (62-44), using 18 offensive rebounds to get up an extra 13 shots, while committing just four second half turnovers as part of 11 on the night. The rebounding edge was in part due to the early first quarter exit of Andre Drummond, who took a blow to the head and left the court visibly out of sync, failing to return due to a neck injury.
Paul George led all scorers with 30 points on 9-19 shooting, scoring 20 in the second half (22 dating back to the second quarter's final shot). George struggled mightily from behind the arc (2-10), but made a huge impact in the game, totaling eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Lance Stephenson also filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
In fact, everyone who took the floor made some sort of impact on the game. David West struggled shooting all night, but came up huge in the second half as expected, scoring 10 of his 15 in the Pacers comeback and OT. Evan Turner had his best game as a Pacer with 20 points on 8-15 shooting, with a three pointer and five rebounds. He was helped off the bench by Andrew Bynum who had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Bynum shot poorly from the field at just 6-18, but he was active throughout the game, playing 20 minutes and doing his best to carry the Pacers through stretches in tonight's game. The two combined for 35 of the bench's 40 points, a rare dual head effort with Scola's and Butler's lone buckets being huge swing points for the Pacers as well.
Indiana appeared to respond positively to Frank Vogel's halftime demeanor, with several players mentioning Vogel digging into the team at the break according to Candace Buckner, who offered up Hibbert's take of Vogel's halftime speech; "We're a good team, we shouldn't be losing like this." The team responded positively for one of their most impressive wins of the season.
The 25-point comeback was Indiana's biggest of the season in a season they haven't done a great job climbing out of huge holes, but better yet, it might mean something. This current five game stretch against teams out of the Eastern Conference playoffs needed to be one where the team rediscovered their identity heading into the final month of the regular season and tonight's win against Detroit may have been just the game the team needed to allow them to get back on track.
Time will tell if tonight's comeback is one the team will point back to, but there's no doubt this was a crucial turnaround for the team, who win their third straight and jump ahead 3.5 games in the Eastern Conference. It will hopefully set them up for a chance to build a better start against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, who extended their losing streak to 20 games, tying their own franchise record.