The Indiana Pacers left no doubt in their first game of the season against the Detroit Pistons, blowing out the visitors in a wire-to-wire victory. The Pacers jumped ahead 8-0 and never looked back, slowly and surely extending their lead, wrapping up a 37 point win en route to their fourth straight W.
The Pacers were fueled all night through an unmatched level of energy on both sides of the floor, shooting confidently, but also stifling Detroit defensively, holding them to 37%. The Pacers shot 60.2% for the game, their second best of the year, reaching the 120’s for the second straight game. Unique to the day and age, the Pacers got largely without the help of the three point shot. Prior to a pair of late game threes by T.J. Leaf and Aaron Holiday late, the Pacers had just three on the game, two of those coming from Darren Collison.
One thing the Pacers did do was make it easy on themselves. They had 68 points in the paint and dominated Detroit off of turnovers. Indiana outscored them 30-10, scoring the first 21 of the game. It also helped that the Pistons weren’t anywhere close to the Pacers were in terms of focus and energy, as evidenced by Domantas Sabonis going coast to coast uncontested.
The balance of the Pacers was on full display once again, getting seven double figure scorers, led by Collison and Sabonis with 19 apiece. Collison pitched a perfect game shooting, going 7-7 form the floor, including a rare breakaway dunk.
Collison led the team with seven assists, three coming on consecutive plays late in the first quarter. Detroit hung close for much of the first, trailing by just three when Collison worked the pick and roll and pick and pop with Sabonis and Myles Turner, leading to six easy points that pushed the lead to seven, and effectively out of reach.
Surprisingly missing from the double figure roster was Victor Oladipo, who finished with just seven on 2-9 shooting. It was obvious the shot was not there for Oladipo tonight, but he still helped push the lead with seven assists of his own, picking up a pair of steals on Blake Griffin early in the third as part of a 8-0 run that pushed Indiana up by 20 for the first time in the game.
The Pacers had 33 assists for the game, their ninth such game of the season. Not surprisingly, the Pacers have fared well when moving the ball well, improving to 7-2 on the year. It was the first time, however, that they’ve won a game without Bojan Bogdanovic making a three, but the ease in which the Pacers scored in the paint served him well, with all 12 coming at the rim.
The success at the rim extended to Thaddeus Young, who had 17 points, also doing all of his work in the paint, but his effort extended well beyond that. In fact, the play that kickstarted Indiana’s 8-0 run early in the third was all Young. On a Bogdanovic miss, Young corralled saved the possession twice, first on a tip off the rebound and then saving an out of bounds play off of Reggie Bullock, setting up Turner for a jumper.
Turner finished with 17 points of his own, becoming one of the few Pacers to extend out beyond the paint, shooting well with his midrange jumper. Turner also led the way protecting the rim with three blocks, even inspiring Sabonis to get one of his own. The trio of Young, Turner, and Sabonis shot 67% though only Sabonis had any real success on the glass, finishing with 12 rebounds.
Off the bench, Tyreke Evans had 10 points and three assists on the night, but he still carried over his impressive play from Wednesday, looking engaged and confident in his decision making. Evans also got in on the hustle play action in ways the Pacers have not seen from him thus far this season. He was joined in double figures by Doug McDermott, who like most players, succeeded inside, scoring 12.
The Pacers continue their march to the New Year with a real sense of purpose, improving to 24-12 on the season, laying claim to the third best record in the league. They own the second best point differential in the league and are now 18-2 against teams below .500. No one has taken care of business quite like the Pacers have, and they’ll have another opportunity to do so in the final game of the 2018 portion of the schedule, hosting the Atlanta Hawks on New Year’s Eve, with an early tip, 3:00 p.m. Eastern.