The Indiana Pacers collected themselves, piecing together their first win of the 2015-16 season on the road against the Detroit Pistons. Indiana needed the 20-point cushion they amassed late in the third quarter to keep things from getting hairy in the fourth quarter, but despite the final 12 minutes, Indiana still managed to come out on top with a 94-82 victory.
The Pacers looked like they might be in for a real fight against Detroit when the Pistons used a 21-6 run to build a nine-point first quarter lead, slicing through the Pacers defense with ease to build the lead, but effectively shut down Indiana on the glass, holding the Pacers to just four first quarter rebounds. Heading into the game however, Detroit had proven starter heavy in their first three games, with their starting five totaling nearly 80% of their points, giving Indiana an opportunity to swing the game in their favor.
With the second units for both teams, Myles Turner and Rodney Stuckey led the way on what would be a 22-0 Pacers run, capped by a pair of George Hill three pointers to move Indiana into the lead 44-30. The Pacers wouldn't relinquish the lead for the remainder of the night, and the benches proved the biggest swing for both teams, with Indiana outscoring Detroit 43-2 in bench points.
The Pacers even played well in the third quarter, with Jordan Hill providing a nice spark in place of Ian Mahinmi, who left early with a back injury, to keep the Pacers from completely collapsing as they have in previous second halves. Hill had 10 on the night, playing by far his best game of the season to date. But it proved to be Stuckey that bailed Indiana out of what would've been an epic collapse in the fourth quarter.
Stuckey helped expand Indiana's lead to 20 late in the third, and did it all, quite literally in fact, in the fourth, scoring nine points in the fourth as part of his team high 23 points. The Pacers lost all of their legs in the fourth, with shots coming up short for everyone except Stuckey as he scored all nine of Indiana's fourth quarter points as part of their final 15 overall.
Fortunately for the Pacers, Detroit didn't look interested in stealing the win away, struggling themselves in the fourth with their woeful bench play capped off by more costly turnovers. On the night, the Pistons had 23 turnovers leading to 30 Pacers points and Indiana was credited with 15 steals. Paul George in particular appeared to be involved in creating turnovers despite only being credited with two steals.
George had 16 on the night, playing well all around with nine rebounds and six assists, but poor decision making (four turnovers) and poor shooting (just 5-17) continue to drag his overall production down. What happened to Paul's shot from the last time he was in Detroit in the preseason is anyone's guess, but he doesn't look comfortable shooting the ball right now, and to maximize his overall play, does need to diminish on the negatives.
Monta Ellis played well overall, scoring 15, but looked solid when running the offense especially early in the third quarter when Indiana was looking for a way to stay out of another second half slump. George Hill had a big first half, succeeding in scoring and playmaking, but seemed to struggle more in the second half. C.J. Miles hit a pair of threes, but was just 2-9 on the night.
Myles Turner looked good once again, scoring six points off the bench, but blocking three shots. As a whole, Indiana's potentially huge rebounding deficit was kept to a minimum. Indiana was outrebounded by just eight, which feels like a positive when considering Andre Drummond alone accounted for 29 of Detroit's 50 rebounds.
Drummond had a monster night of 25 points and 29 boards (11 offensive), but fortunately for Indiana, it all came in a losing effort where Drummond's effect on the game felt minimized after Indiana's 22-0 run, though Drummond's return to action in the second created Detroit's best chance to climb as close as seven late in the first half before Indiana put the game on ice in the third.
The Pacers managing to get the win sure feels like a weight lifted for a team looking to kick start their season, especially with how they carried themselves after Saturday's loss to Utah. But with the second night of another back-to-back looming, the play in the fourth quarter may prove concerning if fatigue was any factor in how Indiana bricked their way through the fourth quarter. The last thing Indiana needs against a well-coached Boston Celtics team is to be running on fumes in a late game situation.