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Pacers final score: Pacers no show in 107-83 loss to Pistons

Indiana’s season low in points was made possible due to another sluggish start, one they were unable to overcome. Victor Oladipo scored 13 to lead the Pacers.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Bucking recent trends, the Indiana Pacers couldn’t overcome another one of their slow starts, leading to a frustrating loss to the Detroit Pistons. From the opening tip, there wasn’t a single thing the Pacers could look at as a positive, as the Pistons blitzed Indiana, going up 40-19 after the first quarter.

The Indiana bench guided the Pacers back in the first half of the second quarter, climbing as close as eight, but Detroit never let them come any closer. Tobias Harris responded to Indiana’s 18-5 start to the second with a crippling three, one of his seven, and three of his game high 30 points.

Harris shot 10-11 from the floor and 7-8 from three, outscoring the Pacers in the first quarter on his own. The inability to contain Harris was met with a very lackluster showing from the Pacers on the offensive end. Detroit kept the Pacers from getting the looks they wanted, while having their way on the other end.

The best player of the night for the Pacers was Domantas Sabonis, but even he was limited with foul trouble and his game tonight suited a complimentary role rather than a starring one, which shoes just how much Indiana struggled. Sabonis finished with 10 points and five rebounds, pulling in three of Indiana’s _ offensive rebound as the Pacers were blown away on the glass.

Detroit outrebounded Indiana 46-26, with Andre Drummond finishing with a monstrous 21 points & 18 rebounds. That kind of performance is familiar against the Pacers, who are thin in bigs who can fight with him outside of Sabonis. Myles Turner scored 10, but had just three rebounds himself, looking no more equipped to handle Drummond than he has at any point this season.

The Pacers were led in scoring by Victor Oladipo, but not in the familiar sense. Oladipo had just 13 points on 11 shots and was never quite album to get much going on the offensive end. It likely wouldn’t have mattered much with the Pistons opening things up in the second half by outworking the Pacers to rebounds and lose balls, leading to opportunistic buckets, but it shows how much work the Pacers have when Oladipo isn’t scoring in the mid-20’s.

Not only was this a poor showing, but it was a big game to have a poor showing in. Last season, the failure to secure tiebreakers against like opponents is what got them into a no-win situation against Cleveland in the first round. Losing the tiebreaker to Detroit, a team that now leads the Pacers by a 12 game in the standings, takes away the control the Pacers can have at the end of the season if they’re still in a position for playoff positioning.

It also highlights a clear line in the sand the Pacers have drawn in the expectations for this team. Against non-playoff teams, they’re 11-2, but against playoff opponents, they fall to 8-13. It’s even worse when looking at the quality of defensive opponents: Indiana is 5-14 against teams in the top half of the league defensively, which goes back to how the Pacers can expect to execute their offense when teams are better equipped to limit the explosiveness of Oladipo.

Indiana will have a chance to bounce back quickly against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but will have their hands full if they can’t get a handle on their slow starts. The Mavs will be on the second night of a back-to-back themselves, but were able to hold on late for an upset victory over Toronto tonight by doing just the opposite of the Pacers; start fast.