Sizzling start, powerful finish as Pistons make it 7 of 8 with win over Pacers
Chris Schwegler/NBAE/Getty Images
Three quick observations from Monday night’s 113-109 win over the Indiana Pacers at Little Caesars Arena
ANOTHER BIG WIN – Getting back to .500 seemed like a very long climb for the Pistons when they sat with a 22-29 record after a Feb. 2 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. They now have a chance to get there before the calendar flips to March. They won their seventh in the last eight games by knocking off Indiana, which hasn’t skipped a beat since losing All-Star and leading scorer Victor Oladipo for the season with a knee injury a month ago. The Pistons used a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter after Indiana pulled within three and Dwane Casey got a timeout to put Blake Griffin back into the game. Griffin finished with a triple-double – 20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists – and Andre Drummond had another dominant game with 26 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. The Pistons scored 36 points in the first quarter against the NBA’s second-ranked defense, then needed nearly the next two quarters to match it. The Pacers, who trailed by 16 after a quarter, tied the game at 75 late in the third quarter before the Pistons scored the next nine points. Over the past eight games prior to Monday the Pistons ranked third in the NBA in 3-point baskets made per game at 14.4 while shooting 36.5 percent over that time and that was a huge part of their offense in holding off Indiana. They hit 7 of 10 in the first quarter alone in building their 16-point lead. The Pistons finished 18 of 41 from the 3-point line with Griffin and Luke Kennard (19 points) hitting five apiece and newcomer Wayne Ellington adding four. Langston Galloway added 13 points off the bench, his second straight strong outing.
BOARD BATTLE – One big factor that allowed Indiana to get back in the game after falling behind by 16 points after a quarter is something that’s usually a pronounced strength for the Pistons: offensive rebounding. It was also the big reason the Pistons were able to pull away from the Pacers in the fourth quarter, not allowing a single offensive rebound after allowing 12 in the first three quarters, 11 of them in the middle two quarters when the Pacers outscored the Pistons 57-48. With Thaddeus Young and Domantas Sabonis doing most of the damage, the Pacers grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone, when they outscored the Pistons 31-19 – 10 of their points coming after offensive rebounds. The Pacers continued to hurt the Pistons on the offensive glass in the third quarter, when they picked up four more offensive boards and converted them into eight more points. Young finished with six offensive rebounds and Sabonis with four.
TRENDING UPWARD – Over the 6-1 stretch coming into Monday’s game, the Pistons ranked No. 1 in offense in the NBA, No. 5 in defense and No. 3 in net rating at 12.3. They ranked first in true shooting percentage (.612), an area where they’ve been critically lacking for the past several seasons and rank 27th for the season, and No. 4 in rebounding percentage. The Pistons ranked No. 5 in scoring (118.4) and No. 7 in 3-point shooting (.392). They’re still only No. 26 for the season in 3-point shooting (.340), though, but their recent hot streak has moved their offense up to No. 22 overall while their defense is No. 11 for the season. Bottom line, the Pistons have been a fairly consistent defensive team for most of the season, generally hovering around the upper third cutoff line. If they can take their offense from bottom 10 to middle of the pack and continue to shoot 3-pointers at or above the league average of .355, they’ll give themselves every chance to make the playoff field.