Momentum turns fast, third time no charm as Pistons fall to Pacers
Ron Hoskins (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Friday night’s 112-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
ONE BIG MISTAKE – The Pistons were soundly outplaying the Pacers – against whom they were 2-0 in the season’s first nine games – over the game’s first 20 minutes, leading consistently and by as many as 15 points. With the score 49-41, Andre Drummond committed a critical lapse in judgment, gambling for a steal nearly 40 feet from the basket and instead picking up his third foul, forcing him to the bench for the remainder of the half. The Pacers immediately reversed momentum, holding the Pistons scoreless on nine straight possessions while going on a 14-0 run. The only points the Pistons scored between Drummond’s exit and halftime came via a Pacers turnover that yielded a fast break and ended in Bruce Brown’s rebound basket off of Tony Snell’s missed layup. The Pistons trailed 57-53 at halftime and Indiana, buoyed by the late change in momentum, carried their aggression over to the start of the third quarter, outscoring the Pistons 15-2 in the first four minutes to take a 17-point lead. Over the last four minutes of the first half and the first four of the second, the Pistons were outscored 31-6. The Pistons pulled within seven early in the fourth quarter before letting it go back to double digits, then cut it to six with 2:02 left after a five-point possession – two Langston Galloway free throws on a flagrant-1 foul followed by a Tony Snell triple – and had a chance to cut it to three following a stop. But Snell missed that 3-pointer and the Pacers answered with a Domantas Sabonis tip to lead by eight with 1:08 to go.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE – When the Pistons won the season opener at Indiana 119-110, they did it largely on the stretch of a whopping scoring advantage off of their bench: 57-16. One obstacle to a repeat performance was the fact that 48 of those 57 points was unavailable to Dwane Casey’s bench this time around. Derrick Rose, who had 18 points and nine assists in that win, was out with a hamstring injury, missing his fourth straight game. Luke Kennard, who scored his career-high 30 in the opener, has been elevated to the starting lineup to help make up for that unit’s loss of firepower with the losses of Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson to injury. Kennard, who scored 16 points in the fourth quarter on opening night, scored 14 in the first quarter this time and finished with 29. Langston Galloway gave the Pistons most of their bench scoring in this one, scoring 11 first-half points and finishing with a season-high 19, and Svi Mykhailiuk added seven. The Pacers wound up with a 51-28 bench scoring edge with three players – T.J. McConnell (17 points, nine assists), Doug McDermott (14 points) and Justin Holiday (16 points) – scoring in double figures.
WEEKEND OFF – No team has been busier than the Pistons over the first two-plus weeks of the NBA season. They played their 10th game – more than any other team – in the 17th day since opening with a win at Indiana. The two days off before their next game, Monday night against Minnesota, is the first time this season the Pistons have had more than a day between games. The Pistons have played two back to backs of their 13 scheduled for the season. The only team that had matched the Pistons’ nine games through games of Thursday was the Chicago Bulls, who were off on Friday. The Pistons have played Indiana three times already with only one more game against the Pacers in the season’s final 72 games. The fourth meeting comes Dec. 6 at Little Caesars Arena in the season’s 23rd game.