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Detroit Pistons 96, Indiana Pacers 88: Lethargic Play Dooms Indiana in First Loss of Season

The shooting woes of the Indiana Pacers have been a footnote in the season opening winning streak, but they’ve been a big part of the season. That Indiana would shoot just 36.8% in the opening half should be no surprise; neither should the fact they only trailed by 8 points at the end of the half. At some point, the shooting problems were either going to come to an end or the Pacers were going to wind up in the loss column.

Indiana managed to stay within striking distance in the first half despite being heavily outplayed by the Pistons who were led by Jonas Jerebko thanks to their ability to get to the free throw line, but that had bad defense, bad second unit play, and showed no energy on their second night. What salvaged the game the previous night against Cleveland, Indiana came out of the half in a big way to barnstorm the third quarter.

That energy didn’t show up in the second half and while the offense showed some life early, a lethargic defensive effort gave into the Pistons ball movement and the eight point halftime lead ballooned up to 19 before the quarter was over. While the Pacers have been able to win this season due to a solid defensive effort, there was almost nothing resembling defense in the third. On the other side, the Pacers kept coming up short due to poor ball movement and continued to flirt with 40% shooting, while the Pistons had no problems going above and beyond the 50% mark.

Down 18 heading into the fourth, it seemed there was little room for error in the Pacers making their comeback, but continued lethargy kept Indiana down big despite having arguably their best fourth quarter as a late 9-0 run got them with seven. It was the Pistons, however that continued to get all the energy they needed as a huge lift. From big three pointers to battling for loose balls, they did their job in keeping the game out of reach as the time wound down.

Not only was the final score in the negative direction (with another sub 40% shooting night), but very little of the game was worth looking at from the Pacers side of things. Lethargy defined the night, opening eyes wide to fans hoping to see decent back-to-back games, especially on the road, where they struggled mightily last year.

After the jump, a little bit more on this game that’d best be forgotten:

  • With most of the game in the negative, Roy Hibbert continued to showcase strong post moves and post play early in the season. He looks incredibly comfortable in the post; the next step for this team will be to feed the big fella more, as he only had 7 shots on the night to finish with 9 points and 5 rebounds.
  • Darren Collison also had another solid game with 15 points on six shots with 8 assists. On a lot of nights, this kind of play should be enough to win, but his inability to keep up with Rodney Stuckey really made things more difficult on the Pacers. George Hill as well had another solid game, getting a team high 16 points on 7-11 shooting, but didn’t play up on the other side either.
  • Five Pacers ended up in double figures, but the advantage went to Detroit with all of their starters ending up in double figures. Starting scoring was a big advantage for Detroit with Jonas Jerebko leading the way with 20.
  • Despite the struggles throughout the night, Indiana ended the night on a high note by making some runs. They weren’t able to get the stops when they needed them and weren’t able to play smart enough when they needed to play smart.

All in all, there just isn’t a lot to look back on in this game as a positive. Players played poorly, they played tired, they played down to their opponent, and tonight, it came back gave them their first loss. They’ve got tomorrow to get things back on track before heading to New Jersey to take on the short handed Nets. The Pacers early portion of the schedule is winding down before the Pacers take a trip to Miami and Boston; they can’t afford to take on a loss to the Nets.