They were down 22 in the third quarter against the Pistons, then Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic combined to drain three consecutive pull-up three-pointers, Lance Stephenson danced as he scored all of his 13 points in the final frame, Domantas Sabonis roared, Darren Collison galloped, and they somehow won by seven, together.
It was joyous, which is why it was necessary to rank all of the crazy stuff that happened.
No. 4: The Cory Joseph-Victor Oladipo-Lance Stephenson-Bojan Bogdanovic-Domantas Sabonis lineup makes its debut and (somehow) thrives
Prior to last night, Bojan Bogdanovic had only played 29 total minutes at four, and the Pacers had been outscored by 7.1 points per 100 possessions with the three-guard lineup of Cory Joseph, Victor Oladipo, and Lance Stephenson on the floor.
So, it was obvious that combining a relative unknown with a net-negative trio would instantly click with zero playing experience, right?
Well, it did.
They were plus-six in less than five minutes of action largely because they were able to force the Pistons into taking tough shots while still keeping an adequate amount of scoring on the floor.
Notice, here, for instance how Joseph’s peskiness at the point of attack results in Ish Smith taking a contested 18-foot step back jump shot.
With their shot selection compromising their defense, Detroit went 1-for-4 to start the fourth quarter while the Pacers scored eight points on their first three possessions, mostly, by pushing the pace off misses.
It’s a small sample size, but feel free to pencil this group in on the short-list of lineups with serious peanut butter sandwich and chili potential (aka things that shouldn’t work, but somehow might in moderation).
No. 3: Shots that were so wrong, but were also oh so right
Please note the time remaining on the shot clock (20 seconds), as well as the location of Sabonis, Stephenson, and Joseph, when Oladipo decided to launch this shot.
Off the dribble, no less.
It was cringe-worthy up until the point in which it sailed crisply through the net.
But, independent of there being no one available to rebound, maybe it shouldn’t have been?
After all, the speedy wing is draining an absolutely absurd 53.1 percent of his pull-up threes, compared to 34.0 percent last season and 31.1 percent the season before that.
Not only is that the best mark of his career since that particular data started being tracked, it leads the entire league among players attempting at least two three-pointers off the dribble per game.
No. 2: Lance making threes, let alone these threes
It was at this point, when it became obvious that the Pacers had found favor in the sight of the basketball gods.
Here’s the prodigal point wing’s shot chart on above-the-break threes.
On the season, he is 4-of-20 on shots taken between 25-29 feet.
He made half of those last night in the fourth quarter.
The first elicited pelvic thrusting (cuz, Lance).
Followed closely by the latter, which he managed to effortlessly knock down over two defenders (cuz, Lance).
No. 1: The extra effort moments
Consider this: During the fourth quarter, the Pacers scored 15.0 points off their own misses against the team which currently holds opponents to the fewest second chance points per game (9.3) in the league.
Here, with three Pistons stationed in the painted area, Oladipo and Stephenson determined themselves to combine for three offensive rebounds on the same possession before converting the tip-in.
Tellingly, the Pacers tallied more offensive rebounds during the second half of last night’s come-from-behind victory against the Pistons (11) than they did in 10 of their other 15 single games this season.
That can only be described as never say never, an attitude which seems to consistently represent the early character of this team even when they don’t do the improbable.