The Indiana Pacers saw some nice positives in their fourth preseason game, topping the Detroit Pistons 101-97 for their third straight practice game victory. Despite the lineup fluctuation throughout the game, the Pacers looked perhaps their sharpest this preseason, putting together fantastic ball movement throughout the first half to keep a Detroit team that succeeded in bursts at bay.
Indiana struggled in the third quarter, but Toney Douglas kicked off a good fourth quarter for the blue and gold, leading to the win. The Pacers shot 47% on the night, but really struggled on the glass, coming up short 13 rebounds on the night and having no answer at all for Andre Drummond, who had 21 rebounds, outrebounding his own team by the time he left the game.
Drummond had half of Detroit's 20 offensive boards, which paints a concerning picture for a Pacers team that used to make rebounding a strong suit. Lavoy Allen and Glenn Robinson III led the way for Indiana on the glass with just six apiece. Chase Budinger made his Pacers debut tonight, scoring seven in a starting role with a pair of boards and a block.
Budinger looked fine as a whole, but it's no surprise Indiana's two best players were the focal point in their time on the floor. George Hill led the starting unit with 14 points, hitting 5-9 and coming up with three steals against a careless Detroit offense. No surprise Paul George looked good in just 12 minutes as well, scoring 13 effortless points on 4-6 shooting with five trips to the line.
The struggles of the Pacers in the third quarter shy of those two may give some cause for concern at stretches this season when relying on the bench, but of course losing depth with players like C.J. Miles and Joe Young didn't help matters much, not that Young has earned much in the way of trust yet without a true NBA game under his belt yet.
There should still be times when the Pacers can find success without George or Hill in the lineup, especially if the surprisingly strong play of Robinson III results in a comparative level of play in the regular season. Robinson had 13 on 5-6 shooting with six boards, but most of his success came in the fourth quarter, when both teams were getting a good look at end of the roster talent.
Indiana's leading scorer tonight was Toney Douglas, who lifted Indiana out of a third quarter funk to score Indiana's first nine of the fourth quarter as part of 15 fourth quarter points. Douglas's spot on the team seems rocky at best, but there's no denying there's been production there even if the overall level of play has been riddled with as many negative plays as positive.
The Pacers will hit the road for a Thursday night showdown against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The game will be one of two preseason games aired on TV, with Fox Sports Indiana and NBA TV picking up the game that may be the first (albeit preseason) matchup between Paul George and LeBron James since the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.