Using a rare winning fourth quarter, the Indiana Pacers staged a comeback win over the Detroit Pistons, sweeping the season series and getting them their second straight win. The Pacers scored 12 straight with under five minutes to go, jumping ahead by eight down the stretch. It was a nice reversal of fortunes after a terrible start to the quarter, blowing a six-point lead to eventually trail by four.
The Pacers continue to play short-handed though did have the availability of JaKarr Sampson and Doug McDermott tonight. Sampson got the start as Edmond Sumner exploded in the first quarter, scoring 14 with a pair of threes. Sumner, alongside Oshae Brissett, helped break up an 18-18 tie, giving the Pacers an impressive 17-7 run to close out the quarter.
McDermott’s finishing skills took center stage early in the second. He scored six in the opening minutes, giving Indiana a 42-28 lead with 9:32 in the half. From that point, Indiana’s offense took a turn, a flurry of three point misses piling up as the Pistons slowly worked their way back into the game.
After leading by seven late in the second, Detroit scored 10 straight, giving them the edge, and a halftime lead. The Pistons came out of the break determined to punish the Pacers inside, scoring 16 points on 8-9 shooting in the paint. The lone bright spot in a run that eventually pushed Detroit up by eight was a trio of tough shots by Caris LeVert to keep things within reach.
The Pacers adjusted after falling behind by eight, employing a zone to turn a layup line into a shooting drill, one the Pistons utterly failed. The Pistons missed nine straight shots, a fair number open looks, as the Indiana offense came to life, a 10-0 run putting them ahead with two left in the third.
After some back and forth, the Pacers would take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter, eventually building it to six before again being weighed down by missed shots and lacking execution. The Pistons capitalized, going on a 17-7 run of their own to lead by four with 4:55 remaining.
LeVert responded with two big shots while Sumner and Malcolm Brogdon each put in threes to get the Pacers out ahead on a 12-0 stretch. Detroit baskets, coupled with a ton of free throw misses by Indiana, allowed the Pistons to bring the final score back to within reach, though even poor free throw shooting was enough to keep them at bay for the 115-109 win.
The Pacers ended up missing 10 free throws, twice as many as Detroit, but it proved to be enough on a night both teams shot just above 40% and missed a combined 46 threes. It was a game of offsetting extremes, however, favoring the Pacers slightly on turnovers vs. rebounding.
Indiana was plastered on the glass 62-39, giving up three double figure rebounders, including 21 alone from Mason Plumlee. Detroit finished with 15 offensive boards, but held a slight 15-12 advantage in second chance points in large part due to a pair of second chance threes from Sumner in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, the Pacers had just five turnovers for the game, forcing 18. That difference gave them a 22-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
Brogdon led the way with 26, shooting just 9-21, but hitting three of his six three point attempts. On a night when the Pacers were just 10-32 from deep, any and all makes were valuable. LeVert also struggled shooting overall, going 9-19 with 25 points, but his scoring was a big part of Indiana’s ability to weather the storm early in the third quarter.
Sumner was electric, scoring 22 points, including 4-5 from three point range. He had 14 in the first quarter and 17 in the half, topping his season high, previously set against Detroit. His first quarter play paired exceptionally well with Brissett, who scored eight of his 11 in the quarter, including this nifty step-back three from an attacking Sumner.
McDermott thrived off the bench in his return, capitalizing on switches to attack the rim at will. He was 7-10 overall, scoring 18, none of those points coming from three point range. It was a much needed boost for an otherwise struggling bench. Outside of McDermott, the reserves had just 10 points on 2-18 shooting.
T.J. McConnell missed some shots he normally makes on his 1-6 night, but was able to impact the game in other areas, finishing with a team high 13 assists and five steals. Justin Holiday also had some nice stretches defensively with two steals and two blocks, also finding areas to succeed despite his continued shooting struggles.
Indiana’s win improves them to 28-31, but with losses both by Chicago and Toronto, the Pacers expand their play-in game lead to 3.5 games with 13 games remaining. Where they fall in the 7-10 range (likely 8-10 range) remains to be seen, but it appears more and more likely they’ll be apart of the league’s new format.
Given the wealth of injuries and general lack of excitement around the current direction of the team, a 9th place finish would of course be the most Pacers thing ever. While their 31-year home winning season streak is likely to fall this year, their 35-year streak of finishing in the top 10 in the East appears to remain in tact.
The Pacers will hit the road for one game, facing the Orlando Magic tomorrow night.