Detroit Pistons (2-2) 96-94 Indiana Pacers (0-3)
Venue: Little Caesars Arena
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The Indiana Pacers (0-3) are the only side in the Eastern Conference to have not won a single game this season, after falling to an agonisingly late 96-94 defeat to the Detroit Pistons (2-2).
It was the second time in just five days that the Pistons have beaten the Blue and Gold, but the Pacers did begin to eradicate some of the errors they’ve made in their previous matches.
Andre Drummond, Derrick Rose and Luke Kennard all struggled to replicate their high scoring form from game one, which was largely due to Indiana’s defensive resilience.
The Pacers’ bench remains to be this team’s achilles heel. They were outscored convincingly once again, which must now begin to worry Nate McMillan. Justin Holiday has come in and done okay, but the likes of T.J. McConnell and T.J. Leaf need to do more offensively if they are to keep their place in the Pacers pecking order.
Brogdon had a quieter night but still managed to make it a third successive double-double. Domantas Sabonis was the biggest scorer of the night as he scored 21 points.
Detroit managed to keep Indiana at arms length through the first 36 minutes of this contest, but it was in the fourth quarter where the tide began to turn. Both Markieff Morris and Drummond committed four fouls each and subsequently left on the bench, as Pacers pushed hard. For the first time, we saw structure and defensive organisation, with rebounds being won on both ends of the floor.
However, for all their hard work at the back of the court, the Pacers struggled to capitalise offensively. The Pacers trailed the whole game until late in the fourth, with T.J. Warren dropping a lovely 3 in the corner to give Indiana a 94-90 lead. Kennard responded with a 3 of his own that, unfortunately for the Blue and Gold, went in via a ricochet off the rim which could have dropped anywhere. With a one point lead the Pacers only needed one more score which would have probably sealed the deal. If only it was that easy.
Brogdon struggled to shoot 3s all evening and missed two long-range opportunities before Rose drove to the hoop for the Pistons to give them a 95-94 advantage.
With one timeout left, Indiana had time on their side to try and get to the free throw line through a Detroit foul. Warren had eight seconds to play with, which was unbeknown to him. Panicked and feeling rushed, he threw the ball towards needlessly towards the basket, which was never going to go in. The Pacers then quickly fouled Kennard, who got to shoot twice from the free throw line. He scored one. With it a two-point game with two seconds left. Indiana knew a score would at least take it to overtime.
They went with the same move that secured a late win over Sacramento Kings (0-4) in India during the pre-season, with Warren the man to shoot. His shot rebounded back off the rim, and the game was done.
Lady luck is not on Indiana’s side at the moment, but the signs of improvement are there ahead of what will be their final game of this three-game road trip at the Brooklyn Nets (2-2) tomorrow.