Through their first 11 games, the Indiana Pacers have given up a league worst 51.3 points in the paint per game. In their first game without Domantas Sabonis against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, the Pacers allowed 52 points in the paint – thanks to Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Wednesday night was no different for the Blue and Gold as they allowed the Detroit Pistons to score 16 of their first 19 points in the paint. Yet given a strong first quarter by Thad Young (9 points) and Al Jefferson (7 points), the Pacers led the Pistons 30-22 at the end of the first.
Cory Joseph started the second quarter with a 23-foot three point field goal to put the Pacers up by double-digits. This was familiar territory for the Pacers given their last three performances.
Just 11 minutes and 45 seconds later, the Pacers were down seven heading into halftime, 52-59. Only 23 of the Pistons 59 first-half points were scored outside of the paint.
Indiana and Detroit went back and forth to begin the second half. After Victor Oladipo stripped the hand-off between Andre Drummond and Avery Bradley, he took it to the other end to tie the game at 65 midway through the quarter.
Again, sharing the lead was short-lived for Indiana as the Pistons went on a 13-0 run to lead 78-65.
The Pacers bench eventually dug their way back to end the quarter down seven, 82-75, the same margin as the beginning of the half. Check out this beautiful play with Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson to close out the third.
The Pistons started the fourth on fire. In the first 60 seconds, the Pistons went on an 8-0 run before a Nate McMillan timeout. After falling behind by 16 points with 10 minutes left in the game, the Pacers managed to pull their way back to just a seven point deficit with less than four minutes remaining.
It never got better for Indiana. The Pistons dominated those last three and a half minutes to finish the game 114-97.
To continue the early season narrative, the Pacers struggled to defend both the paint and their double-digit lead. The Pistons ended the game with 56 total points in the paint and 12 more rebounds than their visiting opponent.
The Pacers have now held double-digit leads in each of the last four games, yet again, they watched their opponent erase that deficit in a matter of minutes.
Victor Oladipo and Al Jefferson led the Pacers with 21 and 19 points, respectively. Myles Turner scored just eight points on eight field goal attempts - the lowest of any Pacers starter. While it is important to mention that Turner played just 26 minutes due to foul trouble, this team is much better when he is a larger part of the offense.
Tobias Harris led the way for the Pistons with 23 points and 8 rebounds. Reggie Jackson added 18 points along with 6 assists, and Andre Drummond scored 14 points while pulling down 21 rebounds.
The Pacers will travel to Chicago on Friday night to face off with another Central Division opponent. The Pacers will be looking to snap their four-game losing streak, while the Bulls will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak of their own.