The Indiana Pacers needed an extra push late against the Detroit Pistons, but managed to survive to fight another day by defeating the Pistons 107-103. Unfortunately for Indiana, their days are running out, as determined by decisive victories by both the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, who with just three games remaining, have Indiana two games out with tiebreakers.
Though the Pacers managed to grab the win, it proved to be a process against a Detroit team that totaled 15 offensive rebounds, scoring 16 points off of those misses, while also unloading for 11 three pointers and five and-1's. While Indiana didn't particularly play without a sense of urgency, there was an extra step for Detroit, especially in attacking Indiana's weaknesses against quickness (by allowing Reggie Jackson a 21 point, nine assist, 8-12 from the line night.
But Indiana was able to counter Jackson, Detroit's rebounding, and 54 points in the paint thanks to equally efficient three point shooting. The Pacers hit 11, including five from C.J. Miles, who had 24 points, hitting a pair of key threes in the fourth to help Indiana back from six and five point deficits. Rodney Stuckey hit three more of Indiana's threes, scoring 24 as well, including three big jumpers late to give Indiana a key five point cushion.
Free throw shooting also played a big part in how the game played out down the stretch. Indiana capped a 20-22 night from the line by shooting 12-12 in the fourth quarter, including six backpacks from George Hill to ice the game, while Detroit shot just 2-8 as part of a 12-23 night. That included an 0-2 trip for Andre Drummond as part of an intentional foul strategy that forced Drummond out of the game for two minutes down the stretch.
The Pacers had 29 assists on 38 buckets, including nine apiece from George Hill and David West, the latter of which needed a good night from other areas given a poor 3-9 shooting night where he rarely if ever looked comfortable shooting the ball. Roy Hibbert played well, scoring 11 points on 5-7 shooting and grabbing 11 boards, grabbing five of Indiana's nine offensive boards.
Paul George reached double figures for his third straight game, getting play at the end of the second and fourth quarters, hitting a big three to end the first half off of a weave play. George didn't look particularly better in his third game back, but provided an important lift off the bench with his 10 points. George's two threes came at the end of the second and third quarters; big time shots for a team that has often missed having a shot maker.
At the end of the day, regardless of how many games Indiana wins, their own losses to Boston and Brooklyn are looming larger by the day with both teams grabbing wins of their own. Miami's loss to Chicago last night puts them two games out with three to play, making a saving grace tiebreak opportunity from the Heat a fading possibility.
The Pacers return to action on Sunday, getting a tall task from an Oklahoma City Thunder team in the same position as Indiana; fighting for their playoff lives and on the outside looking in. By the time the game tips off at 6 p.m., the Pacers will know where they sit in the standings with Boston playing a late afternoon slate against Cleveland at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.