Back in the win column after what felt like an eternity, the Indiana Pacers rebounded from a poor first quarter against the Detroit Pistons to grab the victory in the front half of the teams’ home and home series. The Pistons picked up where they left off the last time the two played, hitting six first quarter threes, using that to build a double figure lead heading into the second.
The Pacers, short both Darren Collison and Wesley Matthews, were forced to adjust by starting Cory Joseph and Tyreke Evans. The change clearly didn’t work from the tip. Joseph’s shooting woes continued and Evans struggled taking on a playmaking role with the starters all while struggling against Wayne Ellington.
In the second quarter, the bench unit helped shift the game into Indiana’s favor, led by Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis had eight of Indiana’s first 10 in the quarter as they chipped back into the game, outscoring Detroit 13-5 to make it a three point game. They broke through halfway through the quarter on a 7-0 run.
They got there in large part due to Aaron Holiday’s play in the second unit. After hitting his first shot, Holiday looked like he might be able to step in and make an impact with his scoring. Instead, he began to defer, dishing four assists in the second with some tremendous passing.
The Pacers pushed ahead by eight early in the third on back-to-back Evans threes, but began to stumble with sloppy and careless turnovers. Detroit capitalized on those miscues, giving them the lead on a 9-0 run. It was a game of runs for both teams and Indiana returned the favor, taking a six point lead with a 9-0 streak of their own, leading by seven heading into the fourth.
Just as Indiana again looked primed to put the game away, they allowed a 7-0 run with more careless turnovers. They managed to settle down, going up by six and then finally breaking through into double figures on seven straight points from Doug McDermott. Indiana never really let Detroit back into the game after that, wrapping up the much needed victory with some big plays late from Bojan Bogdanovic.
Indiana shot 54.5% for the game, once again outshooting their opponent from the floor. The difference tonight, however, was their ability to get stops at times when they weren’t sabotaging themselves with turnovers. After the Pistons scored 33 in the first quarter, going 6-8 from three point range in the first, Indiana held them to 69 points, including a pair of 22-point quarters and just 5-25 from three.
Detroit found a lot of success throughout the game in the midrange, but things were a little harder to come by inside. Myles Turner led the way with five blocks, four on Andre Drummond, helping to limit the Pistons to just 34 points in the paint. The Pacers also forced 15 turnovers, scoring 21 points, though they did allow 24 points on their 17 turnovers.
The second unit really pushed Indiana to a different level, outscoring Detroit’s bench 39-22. Sabonis led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out halfway through the second. McDermott and Holiday each reached double figures with 11 and 10 respectively.
In the starting lineup, Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young each had 19 to lead a balanced attack from the Pacers. Bogdanovic closed the game out with seven points in the final two and a half minutes, while Young did plenty of work around the rim to pair well with his nine rebounds. Perhaps most surprising was the duo’s ability to get the rest of the team involved, combining for 11 assists.
Turner had 17 points and six rebounds to go with his five blocks, making it happen on just seven shot attempts. When he was involved in the offense late in the third, it helped turn a one point lead into a seven point one heading into the fourth. Evans meanwhile was excellent in catch and shoot situations, going 4-6 from three point range for 13 points.
The win marks just the second in the last nine for the Pacers, but it was the closest they had come to playing their own brand of basketball in much of those games. It was a big win to pick up in helping them keep pace with Boston, who held on late at home, while also guaranteeing they can slip to no worse than fifth in the standings.
These two teams will meet up again in Detroit on Wednesday with the same stakes on the line regarding playoff positioning. While Indiana is locked in a sprint with Boston, the Pistons are in an absolute scrum in the bottom part of the playoff standings, holding a half game lead over Brooklyn for sixth while being just one and half games from being out all together.