"We didn't compete tonight," West said. "We didn't come ready to play. They were more aggressive and took advantage of our errors. They were a much better basketball team than us tonight."
The Pistons certainly did what they do well and most impressively, didn't buckle down the stretch as the Pacers made a last ditch effort to swipe the W. The Pistons lead the league in offensive rebounding and they dominated that area, especially in the first half when they gathered 14 of their 22 ORebs which helped account for 17 second-chance points.
The Pacers did tighten things up after the half, as usual but were only able to win the third and fourth quarters by one point. On a night when the Pacers needed every bit of Lance Stephenson's 23 points and Luis Scola to catch fire and add 18 points, the Pistons continually rebuffed the Pacers advances on the lead regardless of where the attack came from.
We've seen opponents run out of gas and crumble down the stretch all season and the Pistons have had their own problems in this area, as well. But not on Monday night.
When Luis Scola slipped through to put back a missed free throw by Lance Stephenson, the Pacers closed the score to one possession at 89-87 after an 8-0 run. No worries for Detroit, they shut off the run with a lob dunk by Josh Smith.
Paul George answered right back with a layup to make it 91-89 and then Brandon Jennings splashed a deep fade-away three-ball. Answers.
A 5-0 Lance run gave the Pacers their last gasp of hope to close the gap to two points again with over a minute to play. But the Pistons held it together and after Josh Smith swatted David West's layup attempt after a timeout, the Pistons just had to make their free throws, which they did, converting on five of six from the line in the last minute to never allow the Pacers a shot at the win.
That's a tough home loss for the Pacers to carry with them down to Miami today as they have to shift their level of effort to elite or face another first this season -- a losing streak.
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