Too many turnovers doom Pistons as late Pacers run gives Indiana the win
Ron Hoskins (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Saturday night’s 115-109 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
TURNOVER TROUBLE – The Pistons pounded Indiana inside, outrebounding them 62-39, but squandered their advantage in possessions all of that rebounding created by turning it over to the Pacers 18 times to a mere five Indiana turnovers. It ultimately came down to which team could do a better job covering up its deficiency and Indiana limited the Pistons’ second-chance points down the stretch while the Pistons continued to turn it over at inopportune times. T.J. McConnell had two big steals – ripping the ball from Killian Hayes’ grasp, leading to a Caris LeVert with 3:41 to play for a three-point Indiana lead, intercepting Mason Plumlee’s backcourt pass with 1:30 left and the Pistons trailing by six – to disrupt a comeback try for the Pistons. The game was back and forth all night, a 12-0 Indiana run spanning the first and second quarters creating a 15-point Pacers lead answered by a 15-2 Pistons run. The Pistons, taking advantage of a Pacers roster depleted by injury, outscored Indiana 36-23 in the second quarter to take a three-point halftime lead, ending the quarter on a 12-2 run. The Pistons took the lead to eight points midway through the third quarter but Indiana went on a 10-0 run as the Pistons managed just five points over the last six minutes of the quarter. And a late 12-0 run by Indiana erased a four-point Pistons lead. Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 25 points. Indiana had three starters with more than 20 points, led by Caris LeVert and Malcolm Brogdon with 26 each. Indiana swept the season series from the Pistons, 3-0.
MATCHING UP – With Indiana having to play small by necessity, Dwane Casey countered by reshaping his second unit and using Saddiq Bey at power forward to get more perimeter players on the floor to match up with the Pacers. That meant neither Tyler Cook nor Sekou Doumbouya were part of the playing group as Casey used Wayne Ellington, Frank Jackson, Hamidou Diallo and Killian Hayes on the unit with Bey or Jerami Grant at power forward and Isaiah Stewart at center. To accommodate that grouping, Casey altered his substitution pattern to get Bey out for Ellington midway through the first and third quarters. Frank Jackson continued to provide the scoring punch that he’s consistently done since joining the rotation in early March when the NBA waived the limits on how many days players on two-way contracts can spend with the parent NBA team. Jackson scored nine points in nine first-half minutes, going scoreless in the second half. Diallo grabbed 11 rebounds in 20 minutes. He came into the game hitting just 2 of 23 shots over his last four games and hit 1 of 5 at Indiana.
PLUMLEE POWER – Indiana’s lack of frontcourt numbers hurt the Pacers during the Pistons’ second-quarter run to get back in the game after falling 15 points behind. When JaKarr Sampson, the only true big man the Pacers had left, picked up his third foul early in the second quarter, the Pacers used 6-foot-7 Oshae Brissett as their nominal center and employed a zone defense to try to hide their lack of size. Isaiah Stewart wasn’t able to capitalize on the size advantage when he also picked up a third foul, but Mason Plumlee’s big first half – he finished with 17 points, 21 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots – was due in large measure to his ability to play over the top of Indiana’s defense. At one point, Pacers forward Doug McDermott – in an effort to prevent another Plumlee offensive rebound – picked up a flagrant foul when he attempted to move Plumlee out of the way with a forearm shiver to the back. The Pacers were without their starting frontcourt of Domantas Sabonis (back), Myles Turner (foot) and T.J. Warren (foot) in addition to bench staple Jeremy Lamb and young big man Goga Bitadze.