The Indiana Pacers rested most of their key players in their third preseason game against the Detroit Pistons, but still provided plenty of energy, guiding the Pacers to a scorching first half that put them ahead double figures at halftime. In the second half, the game flipped on the Pacers, with Detroit closing the game on a 17-4 run.
Without four starters, Indiana got a good look at many young players, including great showings from both Jarrod Uthoff and Ike Anigbogu. Anigbogu, Indiana’s second round pick this past summer, checked in off the bench late in the first quarter and immediately made plays, blocking Eric Moreland at the rim and then scoring at the other end.
Anigbogu looked impressive with eight points and two blocks, though like many of the players, conditioning seemed to take its toll late. Uthoff reached double figures off the bench, scoring six of his 11 in the second quarter as Indiana pushed their lead to double figures. Uthoff found himself involved throughout the game, notching seven rebounds, a pair of steals, and a block.
Uthoff is fighting for a roster spot, but it may prove difficult to usurp the veteran Damien Wilkins, who has a lot working his favor, especially given the injury to Glenn Robinson III. Wilkins bounced back after struggling against Cleveland with a 14 point game tonight, shooting 5-6 and even steadying the ship in the face of a Pistons surge early in the fourth with a pair of threes.
Indiana got a number of good performances from roster hopefuls, including Alex Poythress who scored seven with five rebounds and Ben Moore, who scored six. It was the guys who are secure in their roster spots who brought the team down tonight. The lone starter in double figures was Al Jefferson, scoring 12, but doing so on 14 shots.
Jefferson struggled mightily, looking vintage Al Jefferson on defense, but not looking reliable at all shooting the ball. Along with Joe Young, who scored 11 points on 12 shots, the back end of the roster is looking rather lackluster, especially in a season the Pacers should be looking at some Ridiculous Upside.
Even Cory Joseph, a proven veteran on this roster, had a terrible game. Joseph shot well, scoring 10 on 4-6 shooting, but committed six turnovers, including two offensive fouls. Rookie T.J. Leaf played very well early in the game, scoring six of his eight points in the first quarter, sending away one of his two blocks in the game.
The Pacers will wrap up preseason play on a back-to-back of all things, hosting Israeli club Maccabi Haifa in the first game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday. Maccabi Haifa finished runner-ups in the Ligat HaAl Championship last season, which should be enough to put the Pacers on high alert, especially if they saw Paul George log 39 preseason minutes in a near-loss on Sunday to another foreign club in Melbourne United.