Another short-handed matchup between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons went the opposite direction of their Saturday night matchup, with the Pistons bouncing back and blowing out the Pacers to split the two game series. This one wasn’t close for much past the first six minutes, with Detroit closing the first quarter on a 27-12 run, pushing their lead to 18.
The advantage would continue to swell in the second quarter, climbing as high as 31 midway through the second, the Pistons dominating the game at 57-26. Indiana finally punched back at that juncture, going on a 23-10 run of their own to finish off the half, breaking even in the second quarter.
The Pacers seriously looked like they could close the gap at the start of the third, outscoring the Pistons 8-2 to cut the lead to 12. Dwane Casey and the Pistons finally called a timeout, inserting former Pacer Cory Joseph. After a bad pass from Aaron Nesmith, the Pistons got a look from three, missing badly, but corralled by Joseph, who, recognizing the shot clock did not reset, flung up a deep turnaround three pointer that went in.
That prayer changed the entire game, calming the restless Pistons and kicking off a 13-0 run that put the game on ice, Joseph hitting another three in the run for good measure, his fifth of the game to that point. The Pacers wouldn’t get any closer than 16 the rest of the way, having their two game winning streak snapped in the process.
With an identical injury report as Saturday, the Pacers again were set to rely on their role players to carry them through. This went well in the first meeting; the Pacers wrapped up the first half with 69 points en route to 121. Tonight, the Pacers had 68 points through three quarters, shooting 32% in the first and third quarters, mustering up 39 points.
Poor shooting was part of it, the Pacers had just six made threes through three quarters, but they were also very careless with the ball in the third quarter in particular, committing six turnovers in the quarter. That led to just four Detroit points, but taking away possessions while trying to climb out of a 31-point hole is ill-advised and Detroit got their fair share of success in that area, outscoring the Pacers 25-15 in points off turnovers. Detroit also fared much better on the glass tonight, turning 19 offensive rebounds into 22 second chance points.
After getting six double figure scorers on Saturday, the Pacers went in the complete opposite direction tonight, locking in just two double figure scorers before the fourth quarter. That included Andrew Nembhard, who pieced together a solid first half with 15 points, but went scoreless in the second half and Chris Duarte, dropping 12 points before leaving the game with a sore ankle.
Jordan Nwora would finish with a team high 20 points after scoring 14 in the fourth, including three three pointers. Nesmith had a three of his own as part of seven fourth quarter points for him, wrapping up with 15. Isaiah Jackson scored 11, doing well to stay in the game after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter.
From there, the drop off was noticeable. Jalen Smith followed a 20 point, nine rebounding outing with four points, shooting 2-9 from the floor. Buddy Hield meanwhile had seven, going 1-7 from three after scoring 17 on 3-8 shooting on Saturday. Both players did rebound well, each pulling in eight.
With a win tonight, the Pacers would’ve moved into 10th place in the East, putting them in the final play-in spot. If that was the goal, Indiana did miserably, but if it wasn’t, it went pretty well, as they slide back to 12th at 31-38, now posting the league’s sixth worst record. The Pacers will wrap up their three game road trip with the polar opposite opponent of Detroit, facing the league-best Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.